Customer Reviews for

Speak

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

113 out of 122 people found this review helpful.

AMAZING

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a 198 paged book written in 1999 and published by Penguin Putnam Inc. It is a young adult book that is taught in many different freshman English classrooms since it does have a 9.4 grade level on the SMOG readability test.
This book de...
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a 198 paged book written in 1999 and published by Penguin Putnam Inc. It is a young adult book that is taught in many different freshman English classrooms since it does have a 9.4 grade level on the SMOG readability test.
This book deals with the freshman year of a girl who was raped at a party the summer between middle school and high school. She doesn't tell anyone what happened. Speak dissects the multiple difficulties she encounters as she keeps silent about what happened to her and how her reactions cause her parents, basically the entire student body and most teachers to react negatively towards her. It also looks at how Melinda, the main character, finally comes to terms with what happened to her and her confrontation of the rape and rapist; ending with her finally telling her story.
This book has been criticized and censored as a teaching tool due to the subject matter being considered too `difficult' and `dark' for such a young audience and the plot being too `formulaic.' The plot is a bit formulaic but this only accents the bare honesty of Melinda's troubles and the complex emotions she is feeling. Personally, I believe this book to be very true to life, correctly depicting the reactions of a rape victim who turns survivor. The subject matter is dealt with in a very true and honest manner, something that is important for this grade level. This book looks at a very real problem and deals with it in a very real way. Thus this subject matter is made appropriate for the grade level through the way it is written about and the conversations it than creates. Speak is the most true to life book I have found on this subject matter at any readability or grade level and I highly recommend it to anyone who can deal with an honest portrayal of a horrible occurrence.

posted by 1Katherine1 on September 8, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

16 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

Why?

I was in eight grade when myself - as well as my entire class - was assigned to read "Speak" as required reading. Now, I fully realize that most students are going hate required reading by default, but that's not at all why Speak warrants only one star ((in fact, severa...
I was in eight grade when myself - as well as my entire class - was assigned to read "Speak" as required reading. Now, I fully realize that most students are going hate required reading by default, but that's not at all why Speak warrants only one star ((in fact, several required reading assignments all throughout middle and high school were quite enjoyable)). Ultimately, it's Speak's unrelated, fairly whiny protagonist coupled with an flat story that finds little resolution that keeps it from being halfway decent.

Although the book is written with first person narrative, few readers are going to find themselves relating to Melinda. I realize the events earlier ((rape and subsequent isolation by her peers)) are cause for some introspection and sulking, but she really never sets out to right the sources of her depression. She comes off as more than a little pathetic and it's hard to even have sympathy for a character who really can't find the resolution or strength to try to remedy the situation that has her so down.

Character issues aside, the story can't save Speak either. It was hard to find a substantial plot underneath the endless, monotonous days at school and constant whimpering about her former best friend ((and more than a little agonizing over French fries)). The story simply drags along and readers are supposed to find some form of meaning as Melinda sketches a tree in her art class. This is pretty much the most interesting part of the book, sadly enough. And when the book finally draws to a close, things wrap up neatly on the surface but the ending just doesn't sit right. Melinda doesn't truly face all her issues, but rather everything in the external world is magically solved and happy again. More than a little unrealistic.

The author's efforts were honorable enough, and I can respect what she was trying to pull off with Speak. But the book just doesn't work. Maybe if we had a more likable, stronger main character with a richer plot that involves more than self-pity and school scenes, Speak would have the potential to accomplish what it sets out to do. However, it simply isn't there.

posted by AiriFox on October 8, 2010

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Why?

    I was in eight grade when myself - as well as my entire class - was assigned to read "Speak" as required reading. Now, I fully realize that most students are going hate required reading by default, but that's not at all why Speak warrants only one star ((in fact, several required reading assignments all throughout middle and high school were quite enjoyable)). Ultimately, it's Speak's unrelated, fairly whiny protagonist coupled with an flat story that finds little resolution that keeps it from being halfway decent.

    Although the book is written with first person narrative, few readers are going to find themselves relating to Melinda. I realize the events earlier ((rape and subsequent isolation by her peers)) are cause for some introspection and sulking, but she really never sets out to right the sources of her depression. She comes off as more than a little pathetic and it's hard to even have sympathy for a character who really can't find the resolution or strength to try to remedy the situation that has her so down.

    Character issues aside, the story can't save Speak either. It was hard to find a substantial plot underneath the endless, monotonous days at school and constant whimpering about her former best friend ((and more than a little agonizing over French fries)). The story simply drags along and readers are supposed to find some form of meaning as Melinda sketches a tree in her art class. This is pretty much the most interesting part of the book, sadly enough. And when the book finally draws to a close, things wrap up neatly on the surface but the ending just doesn't sit right. Melinda doesn't truly face all her issues, but rather everything in the external world is magically solved and happy again. More than a little unrealistic.

    The author's efforts were honorable enough, and I can respect what she was trying to pull off with Speak. But the book just doesn't work. Maybe if we had a more likable, stronger main character with a richer plot that involves more than self-pity and school scenes, Speak would have the potential to accomplish what it sets out to do. However, it simply isn't there.

    16 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    i despise this book

    one more book that displays women as helpless little victims awash in their own moods. i hate wimpy characters that refuse to defend themselves, especially when they are female characters who do nothing but whine about the terrible things that have happened to them but will do nothing to better their situation. that is all you will find in this book-a main character who does nothing but pity herself and all around be bratty and weak.

    10 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Don't waste your time! There is absolutely no emotion, ridiculous reactions to situations, and dull characters. Message A+. Book as a whole F.

    Highschool is a time of change, freedom, excitement, embarrasment and sometimes sadness. Whilst the book Speak, by Laurie Anderson, is based on a highschool environment it does not provide the thrill enthusiasm or raw emotion that a book based about highschool students should have. The main character, Melinda, although the victim of a horrible crime, did not exude any emotion to me. I didn't feel sorry for her, I didn't dislike the culprit , nor could I picture myself in her situation. Although in the end, it might have gotten its main theme of speaking up for yourself across, it do it as powerfully as I would have liked.

    To begin with, the story is told in the point of view of the main character, melinda , who starts off being potrayed as a dull, uniteresting loner. She then proceeds to make "friends" with the new girl; whose goal is to become part of what you would call the "popular" clique of girls in a modern highschool. While this friend, heather, aspires to be part of their group, Melinda shows no interests or goals. The story progresses slowly, moving foward t a time where heather decides that she doesn't need melinda's companionship and stops being friends with her. while others teenagers might cry, be angry, or try to get revenge, melinda stays fairly calm, unbelievable considering that shes a teenager. this is an example of what i consider to be a major flaw with this book. although the events could have happened, and do happen, they still seem very unrealistic in the novel. the characters to me, are very underdeveloped and uncomplex. They don't show sensible or rational to events.

    the main theme of this novel is to speak up for yourself and to face your problems. in the end, it seems to clearly get its point across, but not as effectively as it should have. the author might as well have ended the book with, "Rememeber kids, you should always speak up for yourslef!" it was too straight foward and generic. She simplifies a comlex event to basically tell kids, "if you don't speak up for yourself, your whole school might hate you, you might lose your bestfriend, and your grades might drop!"

    Overall, the novel leaves you with nothing but the obvious message, "speak up". the mood comes across as apathy and the characters are plain, typical and generic. if speak's main point was to get its theme across, then it deserves an A+. if its objective was to interest the reader, develop thought provokig situations, charm with its amazing charcters and plot development, or even to be classified as a page turner, it has strayed far off from its goal.

    9 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    SPEAK BOOK REVIEW 2010

    Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a novel written about a girl named Melinda, a high school outcast. As she enters high school as a freshman, she hardly speaks to anyone. Most counselors, teachers and friends thought she was mute, but little do they know about the burden that Melinda carries keeping her from speaking out. Transforming from a happy-go-lucky eighth grader to a lonesome ninth grader, her friends abandoned her and she is left with nobody. At home, her parents are too busy and ignorant to care about Melinda. This is a story about an independent and troubled girl learning that speaking out is what she really needs to do.

    Reading over thirty book reviews on Speak, I have to say that I disagree with the majority of them. Personally, Speak was one of the worst books I have read in a long time. It started off at a very slow pace, not grabbing my attention at all, and continued like that for basically the rest of the book. There were only a few parts that actually got my attention, like finding out what is keeping Melina from speaking out, but other than that, it was close to torture finishing the book. The end was also pretty predictable. I knew at the back on my mind that Melinda would come out of her shell, and that it would be a happy ending. The book finished just the way I thought it would, which really disappointed me. Reading the book, Melinda's attitude confused and irritated me a number of times. I couldn't really understand and feel what was going on at the moment. The majority of the book was rather gloomy and depressing, which made me feel depressed and bored too.

    The thing that interested me though, is how the author formatted her book. She didn't put it into chapters like most books are. Instead, she wrote it by events that happened. It seemed more like a personal diary to me. Also, the author really put a lot of descriptive writing into the book. She basically showed and didn't tell throughout the story, which I want to follow too.

    Overall, I highly do not recommend this book to anyone. Although I know many teenagers all over the world can possibly relate to it, it really isn't the best book to read if you are a slow reader or only want to read books that keep you wanting more the whole time.

    8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Not Recommended

    "Speak" was rediculous. I'm 14 and had to read it for school and it was THE WORST BOOK I've ever read, and I love books so I don't just hate reading in general. "Speak" is overly depressing and makes it seem like the world has no good things in it at all. In the book, the main character Melinda is raped, now I haven't been raped, but I can't imagine that the thought of it would consume EVERY SECOND of your day. The author writes Melinda so as she is very unrealistic: she doesn't EVER notice ANYTHING but the negative, somehow ALL her friends hate her when she calls the cops at a party, and SOMEHOW she doesn't get along with anyone at her school. The author also trys to shove her political beliefs.

    Over all, despite all its praies, "Speak" is a very poor book, and I would NOT recommend it: rediculously depressing, unrealistic, and boring.

    5 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    Not good

    I did not like her style of writing.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2005

    Depressing, horrible, weird...

    I am a very avid reader and trust me, I loooooveeeee reading...but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone except a high schooler. I hated this book, it was waaaay too sad and just...whew...to sum it up I DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2010

    a good moral but horrible story

    I had to read this book for school and with out a doubt it was the most dullest book I've ever read. It was written in a diary like fashion but it wasn't a diary at all. There was noting appealing about this book. There was nothing that kept me wanting to read it. If you expect this book to be a book of moral up lifting think again, only the last few pages resemble a happy ending.

    on the other hand. The moral of the story I agree with completely: when you have a problem you should tell someone, anyone. Anderson had a good message but a bad story

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Don't ever buy this book.

    I bought this book because I had to find a book quick, and a my sisters friend said that this is an AMAZING book. I cant even express how much I could debate that. The book was pretty much pointless until the last 20-30 pages. See the only reason I even had the urge to finish this book is because I really wanted to know that the truth she couldn't speak was. The witting was pretty much as if a middle schooler wrote it. Other than that in the end when you find out the truth. It wasn't worth sticking it through and reading the book.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2008

    Crap!

    This book is not worth reading. Sure its got a great plot but the writing was awful and it ended so vague. I wouldn't recommend it!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    My favorite

    I had to read this book for english but, after i read it i loved it. It focuses on a problem that happens everyday but nobody knows about, its good book and gets you to relize that this happens more than you think and also gets you to find someone to open up to and not to hold everything in.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2005

    dissappointed

    i found this book to be very bland and did not measure up to the things i ve heard about it.. it was hard for me to keep turnin the pagee.. i found it so boring and no story line.. couldn't even want to finish it.. i don't reccommend it

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2005

    Deep Realization

    A deeply emotional book, with characters, which are so close to real it hurts. I was having problems reading the book because the story was so realistic. I was one of the characters, Rachelle, and I did the same thing to my best friend. From a person who was raped I think that it is a great healing tool showing that others go through the same struggles that the main character goes through. The problem is that if you are on the other perspective it is extremely difficulty.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2003

    Worst Book I Ever Read

    This book was about a girl who always moped around because she made a bad decision. This was a waste of my life. It was so boring and I only read it because I had to for school. It could not have been worse.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    Audrey's story

    When i started school in kindergaten, i became best friends with a girl named Allison. I found out that she had a twin named Megan. I figured, woah, my best friends are twins! Double the fun!! I as wrong. <p> the bullying started in 2nd grade. None of us were in the same class. I went outside for recess one day and began to play a game with them. Then we invented a club where we picke up trash from the playground to make it cleaner. I loved doing it. Then one day, Allison said, "this garbage smells! Haha just like you audrey!" I was hurt. She laughed and so did Megan. I laughed along just so it wouldnt show. Throughout elementary scgool, they uld tease me and laugh. I never showed pain. <p> it got much worse when 6th grade started. In 4th and 5th grade, I made even more friends who loved me. But in 6th grade, they started forming cliques. I was pushed out. Of everyone. Everyone would stare at me when i walked down the halls and they would whisper things. I was never involve in any cliques. I was a third wheel with everyone. People started calling me a loner. I was social and happy in elementary school. But when middle school started, o was shy and extremely depressed. With basketball being my favirute sport, i thought i could get away from everyone. Basketball was always my escape. My friend, the only thong i cared about. But in 7 th grade when i got on th bastball team, the cliques came along. <p> Jane was involved in at least two cliques. Both cliques were on my basketball team. I had nobody who wante to talk to me or pass me the ball. When we had partners, nobody would partner with me. vben when there was an even number of us. The formed groups of three in order to avoid me. <p> 8th grade has een the worst so far. Allison and megan kept treating me like crap. Then a new girl came to school. She haf tons of friends. She was in my group in video priduction class. One da she said that i should wear make up. I have nevrr worn make up. I wasnt allowed to have it. Then another day she teased me or he way i dressed. I always would wear nasketball shorts d t shirt. I would dress as if i was playing a basketvallg ame. One day, a few days before he mved, she crossed the line. She grabbed my face and pinned me down in my chair. She touched me and told me to wear make up ad wear skirta. I struggled to get loose. Everyone around me was laughing. My teacher wasnt in the room. She shoved me under a tale d trapped me there. Another girl yelled to her fied " this is what will hapen if you ever become a tom boy!" I started to cry. I was under there crying for a while. When my teacher cam back, he asked if he sould te a video if this. In my next hour, i stared crying again. My teaxher let me go cry in the bathroom so i left. <p> later on in the year, allison and megan made fun of me and gossid about me. Then t lunch one day, allisn threatened to bea me up. I walked in the hall and suddenly started ti cry. I went to he counslers office. Then e made me sa the nae of everyone involved. Allison was brought into his office later that daym then she told everyone she knew that i snitched on er. Then the next week she went to the principal with fake texts from me to maie it look like i was threatening and bullying her. They called my parents. My phone was taken away. I tried to commit suicide over and over. I tried to transfer schools. Nothing worked. After hristmas, allison and meg pretended nothing ever happened. I wont die no matter how hard i try.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Im sorry but...this book was stupid

    She can't write.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Dont Speak

    Omg the author shouldve just kept her mouth shut when she had this idea for Speak. Enough said

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    DONT WASTE YOUR TIME!!!

    I'm an avid reader, and i go through books like most teens go through food. I read Speak a couple months ago and hated it. Never have I hated a character so much as i have the narrator of this story. Honestly dont waste your time, the story is ridiculous and unrealistic and the characters are stupid. If you want a good read check out 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher or Thr Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2013

    I found this book to be so transparent and ridiculous on top of

    I found this book to be so transparent and ridiculous on top of the fact that the book is not realistic. I dont care how good of a party it is true friends wouldnt get made over something so petty and if they are then those arent the type of people that anyone should have.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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