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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


by Laurie Halse Anderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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10,463623273 (4.13)1 / 341

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English (618)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All (622)
Showing 1-5 of 618 (next | show all)
Why did I read Speak?
I didn't know a whole lot about Speak but had seen it pop up a couple of times in the bloggersphere. There seemed to be a lot of varying opinions pertaining to this book and then I discovered that it is actually on the banned book list. These observations only piqued my interest. I added it to my TBR list way back in 2011 and, after realizing it also has a movie, decided to read it as soon as I could.

Is this a realistic portrayal of high school?
Oh my goodness, yes! Well, at least my high school. I have never picked up a book that made me automatically picture my high school and my own experiences. High school freaking sucks. So many awkward, self-conscious people jammed into one building. That shouldn't be legal.

I especially loved how honest Speak was when it comes to the social aspect of high school, especially amongst girls. It's uncomfortable to read but too many girls choose to back-stab and tear one another down. Sometimes we even ostracize another girl or boy for the shallowest reasons or because of jealousy. I think we have all been guilty of it at one point or another. (You're probably lying if you think that you haven't.) The saddest part is that it doesn't seem to get better as we age. Life can seem to be an eternal high school even when you leave behind the people and the place you actually attended high school.

Should this be banned?
Absolutely not! I read once that literature is one of the best ways to see how we really are as a society. (Of course the original quote was much more eloquent.) If we refuse to reflect on how our society really is then how will we ever improve? Sure Speak does have some hard content to deal with (rape), but the social commentary found within is crucial for our youth to analyze. Positive changes need to be made and since many of us are stuck in our ways it looks like they are going to have to be the people to make that change.

I think this should be required reading and I would be perfectly content with my child reading this in 9th grade.

Thoughts on Melinda as the main character:
I think Melinda was a great main character and she provided the experience I had hoped for when I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She is the true outcast and is able to express her pain and provide commentary in a way Charlie never could.

I found that I couldn't help but imagine myself in her situation. So many of the thoughts and feelings that she shares are some of the very same that I have felt throughout my life, especially during high school. I love that she is so able to clearly see past the lies and bullcrap that exist in the world around her.

Favorite Quote:
This was so hard to narrow down because there are so many passages that I love!

"When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You'd be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside—walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It's the saddest thing I know." ( )
  Emma_Manolis | Jun 27, 2017 |
I really liked this story. It was easy to read and I feel bad for her. I really do.
It felt like highschool. Highschool sucks.

Were all taught "Don't get raped"
Were not taught however, "Don't rape"

Gah! Everyone should read this. It teaches you something and makes you aware of something without constantly shoving it down your throat. That is a good book. That's how you send a message.

It makes you think.

When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time ( )
  Shahnareads | Jun 21, 2017 |
YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound. RGG: Important topic - rape, peer issues; presented in an appealing manner.
  rgruberexcel | Jun 19, 2017 |
it did not affect me as much as i thought it would and i just didn't love it. ( )
  Banoczi_Henrietta | Jun 19, 2017 |
Laurie Halse Anderson writes for children, teens and young adults, so I had not read her work before. SPEAK is apparently her best known book, and I can see why, and how today's teens might relate to it.

Melinda Sordino's freshman year at a Syracuse high school is a darkly moving narrative, told by Melinda herself, who has become nearly mute after being sexually assaulted at an end-of-summer party before she started ninth grade. Afraid to tell, she is "clanless," ostracized by all of her former friends. During an English unit studying Hawthorne, Melinda identifies with Hester Prynne -

"I wonder if Hester tried to say no. She's kind of quiet. We would get along. I can see us, living in the woods, her wearing that A, me with an S maybe, S for silent, for stupid, for scared. S for silly. For shame."

Formerly a bright and gifted girl, Melinda's grades drop like stones. She cuts classes, hides in a forgotten janitors' closet she decorates with her own tortured artwork and a Maya Angelou poster, discarded because an unnamed book of hers had been banned by the school - an obvious nod to Angelou's seminal autobiography of sexual abuse, I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS.

SPEAK is a sobering and revealing look inside the head of an adolescent girl who has been badly hurt and feels she has nowhere to turn. Her too-busy parents seem oblivious to her distress and pain. School officials are overworked and uncaring, except for one - her art teacher, Mr Freeman, senses something is terribly wrong, and tries to let Melinda know he's there if she wants to talk, to 'speak.'

This is a book meant for kids, for teenagers. But author Anderson obviously senses, or knows from experience, that adults may not be comfortable with its content, especially parents of teens. The book was first published in 1999, and has been extremely successful. In this 2011 edition, Anderson adds some comments on censorship that parents should read. In her comments she notes that -

"... we have a generation that has been exposed to unprecedented amounts of sexual behavior in the media and on the Internet. They see it, they talk about it, their hormones react, and a lot of kids wind up in painful situations."

Indeed. And that's what SPEAK is all about. One girl's achingly painful ordeal, and how she copes with it - or fails to. I know I was extremely moved by Melinda's story, and plan to pass the book along to a friend who has a daughter nearly Melinda's age. I will suggest the mother read it first. As for myself, as a septuagenarian, I'm grateful I am not raising children in these troubled times. But I will recommend this book highly to parents who are.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
1 vote TimBazzett | May 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 618 (next | show all)
The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn, but it is its raw and unvarnished look at the dynamics of the high school experience that makes this a novel that will be hard for readers to forget.
added by khuggard | editKirkus Reviews
In her YA fiction debut, Anderson perfectly captures the harsh conformity of high-school cliques and one teen's struggle to find acceptance from her peers. Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers.
added by khuggard | editBooklist, Debbie Carton
Anderson expresses the emotions and the struggles of teenagers perfectly. Melinda's pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.
added by khuggard | editSchool Library Journal, Dina Sherman
But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly
Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two).
added by khuggard | editAmazon.com, Jennifer Hubert

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laurie Halse Andersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Correa, María MercedesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Sandy Bernstein, who helped me find my voice, and to my husband Greg, who listens
First words
It is my first morning of high school.
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Book description
This book describes the struggle of a teenage girl to find her voice. You watch the character fall into depression, go mute, drop tremendously in school, and isolate herself from society. As if feeling unsafe in the world isn't enough, Melinda doesn't even feel safe in her own mind. And why? Maybe because all of her once best friends refuse to talk to her for busting an end of the summer party. Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that her parents couldn't take less of an interest in her, and refuse to communicate as they get sucked into their workaholic lives. Deep down, Melinda Sordino knows the reason that her life has turned into a living hell. The only way to escape this whirlwind of torture is to speak, but that's not as easy as it may seem.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142407321, Paperback)

Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:32 -0400)

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A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school.

» see all 5 descriptions

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Laurie Halse Anderson is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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