Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, young adult
“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.
In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
Source: School library
For the longest time, I had been considering picking up one of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books. However, the thing is that I have heard that they are all very deep reads, and I was worried that I wouldn’t really grasp their meanings. When I saw Speak at my school library, my gut told me to give it a try, and I was quite pleased with the outcome.
I can definitely see why Speak has touched the world. It is poignant and makes readers view the world from a whole different lens, offering many unique messages and providing solace for thousands of teenage readers all over the world. I foresee this one becoming a modern classic because of how valued it is in the world of YA.
For a brief synopsis, this novel follows a high school freshman named Melinda. Although her school claims to condone speaking up, Melinda knows that they are just saying it to make students feel comfortable in their environment. Over the summer, a logical decision that led her to call the cops at a party left her lonely. Despite all the social trouble she has, she adores art class, and only then is she able to figure out what the real bother is- she was raped.
From the very beginning of the story, we see that Melinda is in quite a troubled, depressed state. Because the approach she took to a naughty situation at a party was logical in that she did not want her friends to get away with breaking the rules, her peers had different opinions and considered what she did to be a form of social suicide. Despite her desire for security and always following the rules, Melinda is an extremely sweet girl deep down, and all she wants done is the right thing. The way her peers treated her was disgusting, and she did not deserve it because again, what she did in her situation was the right thing to do in order to prevent anything harmful from occurring.
Speak is a rather short novel, but instead of an intensely fast plot, what is emphasized the most to us is rapid character development. In brief, Melinda becomes an extremely strong character by the end of the book, but if you want to see exactly how strong, then the story is yours to read!
All in all, Speak is for sure the type of story that has the ability to change lives. From the amazingly crafted character of Melinda to the valuable morals this story sends out, it is no wonder that it is adored worldwide. I believe that this book is best suited to teenagers who are in the realm of high school who do not mind deep, philosophical messages in the books they read. I promise you that you will feel moved and more motivated to speak up for the causes you pursue.