( 2075 )


From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops — a major infraction in high-school society — so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence, making her all the more mute. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either — there's something banging around in there that she doesn't...

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From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops — a major infraction in high-school society — so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence, making her all the more mute. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either — there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. Try as she might to avoid it, it won't go away, until there is a painful confrontation. Once that happens, she can't be silent — she must speak the truth.
In this powerful audiobook, an utterly believable, bitterly ironic heroine speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while learning that, although it's hard to speak up for yourself, keeping your mouth shut is worse.

1999 National Book Award Finalist
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Booklist Editors' Choice

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When Melinda Sordino's friends discover she called the police to quiet a party, they ostracize her, turning her into an outcast -- even among kids she barely knows. But even worse than the harsh conformity of high-school cliques is a secret that you have to hide.
Horn Book
Young Adult
Speaking out at the "wrong" time-calling 911 from a teen drinking party-has made Melinda a social outcast; now she barely speaks at all. A conversation with her father about their failed Thanksgiving dinner goes as follows: "Dad: 'It's supposed to be soup.' / Me: / Dad: 'It tasted a bit watery, so I kept adding thickener....'/ Me: ." While Melinda's smart and savvy interior narrative slowly reveals the searing pain of that 911 night, it also nails the high-school experience cold-from "The First Ten Lies They Tell You" number eight: "Your schedule was created with your needs in mind" to cliques and clans and the worst and best in teachers. The book is structurally divided into four marking periods, over which Melinda's grades decline severely and she loses the only friend she has left, a perky new girl she doesn't even like. Melinda's nightmare discloses itself in bits throughout the story: a frightening encounter at school "I see IT in the hallway....IT sees me. IT smiles and winks", an artwork that speaks pain. Melinda aches to tell her story, and well after readers have deduced the sexual assault, we feel her choking on her untold secret. By springtime, while Melinda studies germination in Biology and Hawthorne's symbolism in English, and seeds are becoming "restless" underground, her nightmare pushes itself inexorably to the surface. When her ex-best-friend starts dating the "Beast," Melinda can no longer remain silent. A physical confrontation with her attacker is dramatically charged and not entirely in keeping with the tone of the rest of the novel, but is satisfying nonetheless, as Melinda wields a shard of broken glass and finds her voice at last to scream, "No!" Melinda's distinctive narrative employs imagery that is as unexpected as it is acute: "April is humid....A warm, moldy washcloth of a month." Though her character is her own and not entirely mute like the protagonist of John Marsden's So Much to Tell You, readers familiar with both books will be impelled to compare the two girls made silent by a tragic incident. The final words of Marsden's books are echoed in those of Speak, as Melinda prepares to share her experience with a father-figure art teacher: "Me: 'Let me tell you about it.'" An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last. l.a.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW said of this stunning first novel narrated by a rape survivor, "Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy." Ages 12--up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
ALAN Review
This is a story about silence--the causes and effects, the costs and benefits, but mostly the breaching of it. Late summer before her freshman year in high school, Melinda calls 911 ending a party and becoming a pariah. The first day of class a few weeks later, she is left to talk with Heather, a new girl, while everyone else snickers or ignores her. Melinda's parents are not getting along, Heather deserts her for the Martha's, girls who dress, act, and try to think as one, and IT appears in Melinda's dreams and around every corner. When day-to-day existence becomes too much to bear she takes refuge in a janitor's closet, to which she adds some posters and a comforter. But even there she's not safe from Andy Evans, the boy who raped her at the party and who is now dating the girl who used to be her best friend. Anderson provides the reader with hints of what happened at the party throughout the text, as Melinda attempts to break her silence and explain why she had to call 911. As the story unfolds some readers will react like the accepting, available art teacher; Mr. Freeman, some will respond like the critical, absent parents; and some will recognize the adolescent, self-absorbed students at her high school. The wonderfully descriptive language, along with the suspense, capture and propel the reader through this tale. Speak was a National Book Award finalist in 1999. Genre: Coming of Age/Rape. 1999, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 13 up. Reviewer: Katherine Barr
Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-A ninth grader becomes a social pariah when she calls the police to bust a summer bash and spends the year coming to terms with the secret fact that she was raped during the party. A story told with acute insight, acid wit, and affecting prose. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Young, talented actress Mandy Siefried becomes Melinda, a troubled teen who struggles to cope after a rape, as she reads Laurie Halse Anderson's award-winning novel (Farrar, 1999). Although Melinda calls the police, she remains silent about the incident even with her parents and friends. Siefried's expressive voice depicts the tender, insecure youth and her freshman year at high school. This compelling novel presents a realistic portrayal of life in a contemporary high school. The narrator reads at a quick pace, pausing effectively to increase the dramatic mood. She easily recreates the sound of a power saw, and does a fine job of whining, singing, and presenting the cheerleaders' "Go horny Hornets." Listeners will become emotionally involved in this very effective presentation which is sure to please teen audiences.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A frightening and sobering look at the cruelty and viciousness that pervade much of contemporary high school life, as real as today's headlines. At the end of the summer before she enters high school, Melinda attends a party at which two bad things happen to her. She gets drunk, and she is raped. Shocked and scared, she calls the police, who break up the party and send everyone home. She tells no one of her rape, and the other students, even her best friends, turn against her for ruining their good time. By the time school starts, she is completely alone, and utterly desolate. She withdraws more and more into herself, rarely talking, cutting classes, ignoring assignments, and becoming more estranged daily from the world around her. Few people penetrate her shell; one of them is Mr. Freeman, her art teacher, who works with her to help her express what she has so deeply repressed. When the unthinkable happens—the same upperclassman who raped her at the party attacks her again—something within the new Melinda says no, and in repelling her attacker, she becomes whole again. 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. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher

A Michal L. Printz Honor Book

A National Book Award Finalist

An Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

Winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite Award

An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

An ALA Quick Pick

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

A Booklist Top Ten First Novel

A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

A Horn Book Fanfare Title

A New York Times Bestseller

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

The Horn Book Starred

Speaking out at the 'wrong' time-calling 911 from a teen drinking party-has made Melinda a social outcast; now she barely speaks at all. . .While Melinda's smart and savvy interior narrative slowly reveals the searing pain of that 911 night, it also nails the high-school experience cold. . .An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last.
Starred Review The Horn Book

An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last.

Melinda's voice is distinct, unusual, and very real as she recounts her past and present experiences in bitterly ironic, occasionally even amusing vignettes. . . . Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers.
Children's Literature - Casey Dargan
Melinda, a high school freshman, suddenly stops speaking. The reader experiences through her cynical perspective the dreariness of life as an outcast in high school. Melinda loses touch with her friends and family by building emotional walls to hide a secret she is too ashamed and afraid to tell. This emotional novel expresses the dark side of high school students and the pressures to fit in. Melinda also makes the reader laugh with her witty teenage cynicism and her descriptions of the absurd characters who resemble people in our own lives. Despite Melinda's trauma and what it has done to her relationships, she gains emotional strength and self-respect through her art class. Reviewer: Casey Dargan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739336724
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/14/2006
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 4 CDs, 5 hrs.
  • Sales rank: 624,404
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 5.91 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson grew up in Syracuse, New York, and now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. Her first novel, Speak, a Printz Honor and National Book Award finalist, is available on audio from Listening Library

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Read an Excerpt



It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.

The school bus wheezes to my corner. The door opens and I step up. I am the first pickup of the day. The driver pulls away from the curb while I stand in the aisle. Where to sit? I've never been a backseat wastecase. If I sit in the middle, a stranger could sit next to me. If I sit in the front, it will make me look like a little kid, but I figure it's the best chance I have to make eye contact with one of my friends, if any of them have decided to talk to me yet.

The bus picks up students in groups of four or five. As they walk down the aisle, people who were my middle-school lab partners or gym buddies glare at me. I close my eyes. This is what I've been dreading. As we leave the last stop, I am the only person sitting alone.

The driver downshifts to drag us over the hills. The engine clanks, which makes the guys in the back holler something obscene. Someone is wearing too much cologne. I try to open my window, but the little latches won't move. A guy behind me unwraps his breakfast and shoots the wrapper at the back of my head. It bounces into my lap—a Ho-Ho.

We pass janitors painting over the sign in front of the high school. The school board has decided that "Merryweather High—Home of the Trojans" didn't send a strong abstinence message, so they have transformed us into the Blue Devils. Better the Devil you know than the Trojan you don't, I guess. School colors will stay purple and gray. The board didn't want to spring for new uniforms.

Older students are allowed to roam until the bell, but ninth-graders are herded into the auditorium. We fall into clans: Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders, Human Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, Big Hair Chix, the Marthas, Suffering Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders. I am clanless. I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoons. I didn't 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 Outcast.

There is no point looking for my ex-friends. Our clan, the Plain Janes, has splintered and the pieces are being absorbed by rival factions. Nicole lounges with the Jocks, comparing scars from summer league sports. Ivy floats between the Suffering Artists on one side of the aisle and the Thespians on the other. She has enough personality to travel with two packs. Jessica has moved to Nevada. No real loss. She was mostly Ivy's friend, anyway.

The kids behind me laugh so loud I know they're laughing about me. I can't help myself. I turn around. It's Rachel, surrounded by a bunch of kids wearing clothes that most definitely did not come from the EastSide Mall. Rachel Bruin, my ex-best friend. She stares at something above my left ear. Words climb up my throat. This was the girl who suffered through Brownies with me, who taught me how to swim, who understood about my parents, who didn't make fun of my bedroom. If there is anyone in the entire galaxy I am dying to tell what really happened, it's Rachel. My throat burns.

Her eyes meet mine for a second. "I hate you," she mouths silently. She turns her back to me and laughs with her friends. I bite my lip. I am not going to think about it. It was ugly, but it's over, and I'm not going to think about it. My lip bleeds a little. It tastes like metal. I need to sit down.

I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special, looking for someone, anyone, to sit next to. A predator approaches: gray jock buzz cut, whistle around a neck thicker than his head. Probably a social studies teacher, hired to coach a blood sport.

Mr. Neck: "Sit."

I grab a seat. Another wounded zebra turns and smiles at me. She's packing at least five grand worth of orthodontia, but has great shoes. "I'm Heather from Ohio," she says. "I'm new here. Are you?" I don't have time to answer. The lights dim and the indoctrination begins.


1. We are here to help you.
2. You will have enough time to get to your class before] the bell rings.]
3. The dress code will be enforced.
4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
5. Our football team will win the championship this year.
6. We expect more of you here.
7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with your needs in mind.
9. Your locker combination is private.
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly.

My first class is biology. I can't find it and get my first demerit for wandering the hall. It is 8:50 in the morning. Only 699 days and 7 class periods until graduation.


My English teacher has no face. She has uncombed stringy hair that droops on her shoulders. The hair is black from her part to her ears and then neon orange to the frizzy ends. I can't decide if she had pissed off her hairdresser or is morphing into a monarch butterfly. I call her Hairwoman.

Hairwoman wastes twenty minutes taking attendance because she won't look at us. She keeps her head bent over her desk so the hair flops in front of her face. She spends the rest of class writing on the board and speaking to the flag about our required reading. She wants us to write in our class journals every day, but promises not to read them. I write about how weird she is.

We have journals in social studies, too. The school must have gotten a good price on journals. We are studying American history for the ninth time in nine years. Another review of map skills, one week of Native Americans, Christopher Columbus in time for Columbus Day, the Pilgrims in time for Thanksgiving. Every year they say we're going to get right up to the present, but we always get stuck in the Industrial Revolution. We got to World War I in seventh grade—who knew there had been a war with the whole world? We need more holidays to keep the social studies teachers on track.

My social studies teacher is Mr. Neck, the same guy who growled at me to sit down in the auditorium. He remembers me fondly. "I got my eye on you. Front row."

Nice seeing you again, too. I bet he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Vietnam or Iraq—one of those TV wars.


I find my locker after social studies. The lock sticks a little, but I open it. I dive into the stream of fourth-period lunch students and swim down the hall to the cafeteria.

I know enough not to bring lunch on the first day of high school. There is no way of telling what the acceptable fashion will be. Brown bags—humble testament to suburbia, or terminal geek gear? Insulated lunch bags—hip way to save the planet, or sign of an overinvolved mother? Buying is the only solution. And it gives me time to scan the cafeteria for a friendly face or an inconspicuous corner.

The hot lunch is turkey with reconstituted dried mashed potatoes and gravy, a damp green vegetable, and a cookie. I'm not sure how to order anything else, so I just slide my tray along and let the lunch drones fill it. This eight-foot senior in front of me somehow gets three cheeseburgers, French fries, and two Ho-Hos without saying a word. Some sort of Morse code with his eyes, maybe. Must study this further. I follow the Basketball Pole into the cafeteria.

I see a few friends—people I used to think were my friends—but they look away. Think fast, think fast. There's that new girl, Heather, reading by the window. I could sit across from her. Or I could crawl behind a trash can. Or maybe I could dump my lunch straight into the trash and keep moving right on out the door.

The Basketball Pole waves to a table of friends. Of course. The basketball team. They all swear at him—a bizarre greeting practiced by athletic boys with zits. He smiles and throws a Ho-Ho. I try to scoot around him.

Thwap! A lump of potatoes and gravy hits me square in the center of my chest. All conversation stops as the entire lunchroom gawks, my face burning into their retinas. I will be forever known as "that girl who got nailed by potatoes the first day." The Basketball Pole apologizes and says something else, but four hundred people explode in laughter and I can't read lips. I ditch my tray and bolt for the door.

I motor so fast out of the lunchroom the track coach would draft me for varsity if he were around. But no, Mr. Neck has cafeteria duty. And Mr. Neck has no use for girls who can run the one hundred in under ten seconds, unless they're willing to do it while holding on to a football.

Mr. Neck: "We meet again."


Would he listen to "I need to go home and change," or "Did you see what that bozo did"? Not a chance. I keep my mouth shut.

Mr. Neck: "Where do you think you're going?"


It is easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say.

Mr. Neck makes a note in his book. "I knew you were trouble the first time I saw you. I've taught here for twenty-four years and I can tell what's going on in a kid's head just by looking in their eyes. No more warnings. You just earned a demerit for wandering the halls without a pass."


Art follows lunch, like dream follows nightmare. The classroom is at the far end of the building and has long, south-facing windows. The sun doesn't shine much in Syracuse, so the art room is designed to get every bit of light it can. It is dusty in a clean-dirt kind of way. The floor is layered with dry splotches of paint, the walls plastered with sketches of tormented teenagers and fat puppies, the shelves crowded with clay pots. A radio plays my favorite station.

Mr. Freeman is ugly. Big old grasshopper body, like a stilt-walking circus guy. Nose like a credit card sunk between his eyes. But he smiles at us as we file into class.

He is hunched over a spinning pot, his hands muddy red. "Welcome to the only class that will teach you how to survive," he says. "Welcome to Art."

I sit at a table close to his desk. Ivy is in this class. She sits by the door. I keep staring at her, trying to make her look at me. That happens in movies—people can feel it when other people stare at them and they just have to turn around and say something. Either Ivy has a great force field, or my laser vision isn't very strong. She won't look back at me. I wish I could sit with her. She knows art.

Mr. Freeman turns off the wheel and grabs a piece of chalk without washing his hands. "SOUL," he writes on the board. The clay streaks the word like dried blood. "This is where you can find your soul, if you dare. Where you can touch that part of you that you've never dared look at before. Do not come here and ask me to show you how to draw a face. Ask me to help you find the wind."

I sneak a peek behind me. The eyebrow telegraph is flashing fast. This guy is weird. He must see it, he must know what we are thinking. He keeps on talking. He says we will graduate knowing how to read and write because we'll spend a million hours learning how to read and write. (I could argue that point.)

Mr. Freeman: "Why not spend that time on art: painting, sculpting, charcoal, pastel, oils? Are words or numbers more important than images? Who decided this? Does algebra move you to tears?" (Hands raise, thinking he wants answers./ "Can the plural possessive express the feelings in your heart? If you don't learn art now, you will never learn to breathe!!!"

There is more. For someone who questions the value of words, he sure uses a lot of them. I tune out for a while and come back when he holds up a huge globe that is missing half of the Northern Hemisphere. "Can anyone tell me what this is?" he asks. "A globe?" ventures a voice in the back. Mr. Freeman rolls his eyes. "Was it an expensive sculpture that some kid dropped and he had to pay for it out of his own money or they didn't let him graduate?" asks another.

Mr. Freeman sighs. "No imagination. What are you, thirteen? Fourteen? You've already let them beat your creativity out of you! This is an old globe I used to let my daughters kick around my studio when it was too wet to play outside. One day Jenny put her foot right through Texas, and the United States crumbled into the sea. And voilà—an idea! This broken ball could be used to express such powerful visions—you could paint a picture of it with people fleeing from the hole, with a wet-muzzled dog chewing Alaska—the opportunities are endless. It's almost too much, but you are important enough to give it to."


"You will each pick a piece of paper out of the globe." He walks around the room so we can pull red scraps from the center of the earth. "On the paper you will find one word, the name of an object. I hope you like it. You will spend the rest of the year learning how to turn that object into a piece of art. You will sculpt it. You will sketch it, papier-mâché it, carve it. If the computer teacher is talking to me this year, you can use the lab for computer-aided designs. But there's a catch—by the end of the year, you must figure out how to make your object say something, express an emotion, speak to every person who looks at it."

Some people groan. My stomach flutters. Can he really let us do this? It sounds like too much fun. He stops at my table. I plunge my hand into the bottom of the globe and fish out my paper. "Tree." Tree? It's too easy. I learned how to draw a tree in second grade. I reach in for another piece of paper. Mr. Freeman shakes his head. "Ah-ah-ah," he says. "You just chose your destiny, you can't change that."

He pulls a bucket of clay from under the pottery wheel, breaks off fist-sized balls, and tosses one to each of us. Then he turns up the radio and laughs. "Welcome to the journey."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2075 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 2077 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:


    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.

    115 out of 124 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Speak is my new favorite book.

    After seeing the movie, I had to order this book. The author does a spectacular job of capturing the essence of high school. She depicts a story of a girl struggling with inner demons that anybody, whether they have gone through what Melinda has gone through or something similar, can relate to. Feeling alone, being depressed, dealing with crazy teachers, ignorant parents; its all in here and woven into a beautiful and memorable story. I would suggest this book to everyone I know as a story of hope and empowerment during the high school years.

    Thank you Laurie Anderson for this book. I truly was amazing.

    -Alisa Vanegas

    31 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An Unforgettable Emotional Whirlwind

    When I picked up Speak, I had a general idea of what to expect from the book. From reviews that I had read, it was a good book that was an emotional roller coaster.

    However, what I hadn't expected was how much I would love the book.

    From the beginning, you can sense that something had happened to Melinda, and obviously that something had changed her life deeply. She is very introverted, shy, and there is that one boy who she has to stay away from no matter what. Apparently, some exchange had happened between the two, and he had left untroubled while she was troubled.

    I'm not exactly sure of what to say, because I don't want to spoil anything from this book, and I think that anyone and everyone should read it. You can learn the effects something tragic can have on a person, and how they learn to deal with the event. Throughout the book, I was there with Melinda, emotion-to-emotion. It was amazing how this story brought so much more to my attention.

    I think this is a fantastic book, in summary. I would, and will, recommend it to everyone, male and female, because everyone can learn just a little bit more from this beautifully written story by Laurie Halse Anderson.

    25 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2008


    This book was actually pretty good... I HATE reading! It is also one of my worst subjects. But this book actually made me want to read it. The artist actually made it easy flowing. I didnt want to put it down i was cleaning the house and reading it at the same time. Anyways if you have any spare time on your hands you should read this book.

    21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    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 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    After reading the reviews and reading what the book was about, I thought I would enjoy this book, however, the book seemed to have no point. The book was nothing but the young girls day to day classes in high school. It was very hard to finish reading this book, due to the boringness, but I did complete and I am now starting on her book Wintergirls, and I hope this book will be more appealing. If these type of books are your taste I recommend Willow, everyone I shared Willow with loved it!!

    14 out of 31 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.

    11 out of 33 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.

    10 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Open your mind, open your heart, open your mouth

    Speak is another book that I dove into knowing virtually nothing about it from the start. I knew it was in the "adolescent lit" category and that the narrator spent some time doing some artwork trying to express herself. I was not at all ready for the deeply emotional and heart wrenching story of the novel. This isn't by any means a piece of adolescent "fluff" like the flood of teen books flooding the market in recent years. Rather it is an intense exploration of a teenager struggling with alienation, self-worth, honesty and change. It's about the struggle she goes through in trying to find her voice in the midst of emotional turmoil. With very few exceptions, the main character, Melinda, has gone mute. She speaks only when silence is absolutely unavoidable and even then, her words don't speak her true thoughts. As the title implies, she spends the novel trying to find a way to speak her mind, to find her voice. This book masterfully explores the communication barriers between adolescents and their peers and the adults in their lives.

    This book was an easy read and a hard read at the same time. The author did an excellent job of pulling me into the mind of a high school "outcast" and all the emotional baggage that goes with it. In addition to an excellent portrayal of high school and the dramas that go with it, she also managed to effectively give our narrator struggles and trials that really pulled on my emotions and made everything all the more real. And she did so without making any of it feel cheap or contrived. The honesty is absolutely real, which can make it frightening. The author included a note on "censorship" in the back of my edition. I suspect there are parents and teachers who would not want their kids reading this book. To them, I would ask if they actually read the book. There is nothing objectionable in it...no language, no graphic references, nothing. On the contrary, this book serves as a great eye-opener to teenagers that they are not alone in their struggles and their feelings of alienation and separation. And to those going through even deeper struggles like Melinda in the book, this novel can provide hope that they can overcome. I would definitely recommend this book to teenagers, to parents, and to anybody who has survived high school.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This is truely the best book I have ever read in my entire life!!!

    This book was sooo intreaging that I found I couldn't put the book down. I felt horrible for Melinda, she wasn't a social butterfly and everyone hates her for calling the cops on a party. Her friend, Rachel/Rachelle, won't talk to her and her boyfriend is the guy that raped Melinda during the party (but no one knows that including her parents). The ending is wonderful and in my view, a book isn't good unless the ending is to die for...


    Take it from me, this is a great book and is VERY realistic. It is a book that made me laugh out loud beyond numerous times. I forced my 48-year-old mother (i'm twelve) to read it and she loved it beyond words.

    Great and fluent writing and can be read by anyone that understands the fact that the world isn't as kind as a seven-year-old may see it.

    Unless you or your kid is cultured and knows about sex...don't read it.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2008

    MRS. Dobney extra credit

    i really enjoyed this book. It is definately one of my favorites i suggest this to many readers

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    An unforgettable book that you'll find that you want to read over and over!

    Have you ever been in a situation when you didn't have a voice to sepak out? Melinda Sordino in Speak, by Laurie Hasle Anderson, is one of those people. melinda Sordino was your typical teenage girl, util one night at a high school party she got into an extremely sticky situation and called for help. From there, her life spiraled down into a deep, dark abyss.
    At school, Melinda is hated by almost everyone because she "busted the party" and called the cops. Laurie Anderson does an amazing job in this realistic fiction novel, by making Melinda extremely real, life-like, and relatable. The problems that Melinda was going through may be the problems that everyday teenagers go through as well. Melinda's grades started to slip and she didn't care about school anymore. The only class she did well in, was art. Her drawing teacher, Mr. Freeman inspired Melinda to to express her thoughts and feelings not through words, but art.
    The most important theme that the author tries to convery, is to speak out for yourself, to not let anyone walk all over you, and to let your voice be heard. In the end Melinda gets the courage to finally speak out for herself, and to speak the truth.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    It wasn't very good...

    I didn't like this book very much. i thought it was just okay. i got bored in alot of parts of the book and almost couldn't finish the book.

    6 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2008


    Speek a novel about a girl who calls the police to break up the party at the end of the summer. now her fiends hate her for getting them in trouble does melinda have to start her freshman year without any friends? if so what does she do and why did she break up that party?

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2008

    Experiencing it makes it worth reading!! :]

    I beleive that this book does infact relate to high school life, but yet it doesn't in fact relate to all the bad things that kids of this generation would do, most adults no what it was like for them, but to be the person who got picked on all the time is what makes a story completely different.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000

    Not the greatest.

    I originally bought this book through the Teen People Book Club, and I couldn't wait to get it. The reviews were outstanding, as was the description, however, I was sort of disappointed when I finally finished it. To me, the book really had no plot, and really had nothing to do with the decriptions and summaries provided, the book went on and on about how horrible Melinda's Freshman year was, yet the author didn't use very many details, and the book sort of got boring, the ending was really BLAH like, as was most of the story.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Extremely Realistic I've read so many reviews and it breaks my

    Extremely Realistic

    I've read so many reviews and it breaks my heart to see so many people put down this book just because they don't understand it. It is not a boring plot, a flat character, or a predictable storyline.
    As someone who has experienced an extremely similar situation, I can say that this is portrays the exact journey of someone dealing with a traumatic event. This IS the life you experience afterward, you DO think it about it every second of the day, and lastly, you do lose hope.
    I realize that this is difficult to understand if you cannot relate, but you must keep an open mind. Not everyone lives the same life and this book exhibits a path that is too often traveled but never spoken about. It captures real pain and struggle and even more so, the difficult road to recovery and the time it takes. This book is not for adolescents, it requires an adult mind to fully grasp the tragedy of this story and how much Speak lives in the world around us.

    4 out of 4 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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