Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Puffin Books 
Pages: 198
Release Date: October 22, 1999

I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoon. I did’n go to the mall, the lake, or the pool, or answer the phone. I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And I don’t have anyone to sit with.

I am an outcast.

Every since entering the booktube and book blog communities, I’ve seen Speak floating around as a must read. I finally found a used copy and read it immediately. Speak is a beautifully written novel about sexual assault, the pains of high school life, and the difficulty of finding the courage and determination to speak up.

Anderson delivers a realistic depiction of everyday high school life told through the perspective of a very snarky and sarcastic 9th grader. Melinda’s voice is one of the best aspects of Speak. The novel wouldn’t have the impact that its had without her voice. Throughout the novel, Melinda is trying to find her place in the social order while dealing with the trauma she suffered. The transition from grade school (middle school) to high school is a difficult one without having to cope with the effects of sexual assault. Melinda’s various coping mechanism are engrained in every thought she has and every action she does throughout the story. She journey from silence to communication is an inspiring one.

My edition of Speak has a Q & A with the author where she talks about being approached by male readers who had no idea about the tremendous effects sexual assault has on women. This is both surprising and expected. It’s for this reason that novels like these should be held up for the world to see and should be screamed from rooftops.

Overall, Speak is a must read for everyone. I’m disappointed that I didn’t read it sooner.


Have you read Speak? What did you think?


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