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1999 National Book Award Finalist
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Booklist Editors' Choice
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.
110 out of 119 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2009
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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.
31 out of 35 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 2, 2009
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.
19 out of 22 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2010
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 40 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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 30 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2009
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 29 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 18, 2009
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2009
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.
8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.
7 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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...
BASICALLY, I CAN'T STAND A DISAPOINTING BOOK.
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2008
Posted September 18, 2009
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2009
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"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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2008
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 13, 2000
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 29, 2013
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2011