Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

"Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say."

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published October 22, 1999

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Laurie Halse Anderson

82 books16.6k followers

UPDATE! SHOUT, my memoir in verse, is out, has received 9 starred reviews, and was longlisted for the National Book Award!

For bio stuff: Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults. Combined, her books have sold more than 8 million copies. Her new book, SHOUT, a memoir-in-verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesta for the #MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for seven consecutive weeks.

Laurie has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award four times. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal. Two more books, Shout and The Impossible Knife of Memory, were long-listed for the National Book Award. Laurie was selected by the American Library Association for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English.

In addition to combating censorship, Laurie regularly speaks about the need for diversity in publishing and is a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council. She lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys cheesesteaks while she writes. Find out more about Laurie by following her on Twitter at @halseanderson, Instagram at halseanderson, and Facebook at lauriehalseanderson, or by visiting her website, madwomanintheforest.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
230,241 (40%)
4 stars
194,131 (33%)
3 stars
109,330 (18%)
2 stars
29,755 (5%)
1 star
12,112 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 29,976 reviews
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
April 16, 2010
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 will look back on fondly."

I'm trying to think of ways to go about describing this book, and I'm not really sure how to start. It's dark, depressing, terrifying, and amazing. Everyone should read it. You might hate it (and I'll get to you), but you must read it.

The story starts with Melinda, the narrator, starting 9th grade. Everyone, even her old friends, won't talk to her. It's revealed that during the summer Melinda called the cops on a party and it got busted - a few people got arrested, and now everyone hates her. Something happened to Melinda at that party, something she hasn't told anyone about. She retreats into herself, withdrawing from school, her family, and any possibility of friendship. It isn't until the middle of the story that we learn what really happened at the party, but Anderson gives us a big fat hint in this scene where Melinda and her lab partner dissect a frog in biology class:
"Our frog lies on her back. Waiting for a prince to come and princessify her with a smooch? I stand over her with my knife. Ms. Keen's voice fades to a mosquito whine. My throat closes off. It's hard to breathe. I put out my hand to steady myself against the table. David pins her froggy hands to the dissection tray. He spreads her froggy legs and pins her froggy feet. I have to slice open her belly. She doesn't say a word. She is already dead. A scream starts in my gut - I can feel the cut, smell the dirt, leaves in my hair."

Holy god. Remember what I said about the terrifying stuff?

The main reason I loved this book is because I was very, very similar to Melinda in high school. Her attitude about school, her cynicism towards the whole "high school is the best time of your life" crap, her opinions about classes and teachers and the uselessness of guidance counselors...that was me. I kind of wished I could transport myself into the story, so Melinda and I could sneer at pep rallies together.

And then I felt bad, because nothing bad happened to me in high school. Nothing like the stuff Melinda went through. She had a reason for being so withdrawn and unhappy and angry about everything. I didn't. It's sort of an unpleasant realization - wow, I was a total snot for absolutely no reason. I was okay with this eventually, but some people might not be. I can imagine someone criticizing this story for being too emo, or saying that Melinda was too much of a downer.

(Okay, I didn't want to give away spoilers, but I can't talk about my next point without revealing some stuff. So, just to be clear...


Then again, they could be like a certain reviewer YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE who wrote, and I quote, "I'm so sick of this [sic:] stories about girls who got raped and spend the entire book pitying themselves."

*takes breath, counts to ten.*

Apparently Laurie Halse Anderson gets this a lot. My edition of the book has an interview with her, and she said, "I have gotten one question repeatedly from young men. These are guys who liked the book, but they are honestly confused. They ask me why Melinda was so upset about being raped."

I'm...they...why...what the fuck. I think I need to go sit in a corner and do some yoga breaths, be back later.

Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
July 12, 2017
4.5 stars! I think this is a really powerful novel that should be read by so many, especially teens.
Speak is a fascinating tale of learning to use your voice when you previously believed it did not matter. The message is one I think all can benefit from and I’m so glad I finally read it.

Trigger warning: rape

Laurie Halse Anderson is a fabulous writer. She has a very distinctive writing style; It’s an unfiltered stream of consciousness that feels so real. I previously read Wintergirls and found them to be written very similarly. Melinda’s narration is authentic and raw – she’s not here to make you love her or hate here, she’s here to tell her story as is. Her humor is dry and loveable which creates an interesting dynamic with the rest of her character.

I will say, there really isn’t a plot, which is usually a letdown for me. The entire book is essentially Melissa navigating her freshman year with a heavy weight on her shoulders and few people in her company. There is definitely a large amount of character development which was executed well and I understand that is the intention of the story, so I’m not going to complain that it didn’t feed into my reading preferences. The novel didn’t need a large plot because the story is of personal growth and strength, not high school drama or romance.

I will say, the ending felt a little abrupt. I would have loved even just an epilogue to have a more concrete ending (and justice), though many people in Melinda’s situation do not get closure, so maybe that was the author’s intent.

What’s interesting is that this book was always described to me as a revolutionary story about sexual assault, but I only found out in the middle of reading that this aspect of the story is not commonly known before reading? Apparently, the point of the story is to find out WHY Melinda cannot speak, though I went into this story already knowing the reason. I definitely don’t think my knowledge of the events of this story affected my reading experience at all. If anything, I think I got more out of the story because I was able to read into details as they were being revealed instead of having to decode them later. I really wish the content of this story was more widespread (though I do seem to be a little late in reading this one) because I think it’s so important people know the sensitive topics they are reading about. Sexual assault is not a plot twist (and I am not suggesting Speak feeds into this because I think the topic was handled with accuracy and respect in this case, I’m making a general statement) and I would love for us to not have to silence discussion on its inclusion in the book in fear of ~*s p o i l e r s*~. I think people should know the content of this book before reading, if only to help protect those who may be deeply affected by the events of this novel, where reading unprepared could cause a lot of harm.

I really loved this book and would definitely recommend it!
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews65.8k followers
October 16, 2017
2017 Reread: I read this for my young adult literature class along with scholastic articles about the book, which added a great new layer to my interpretation of the novel.

Original Review: I've owned this book for years and never got around to reading it until yesterday. I'm happy I did because this was one of the best books that I have read lately. Speak was very well paced and I never found the story to be dragging or boring. I loved the character development and Melinda's voice throughout the story. (Original rating: 5/5 stars)
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
March 15, 2019
I didn't think I'd be so gripped by this book but the author captures the pains and troubles of everyday high school life with such honesty and raw emotion that I couldn't help recognising half the characters from my own high school days. There's Rachel, the ex best friend who's had a personality transplant over the summer... Heather, the temporary friend who's just waiting to be snapped up by a cooler clique... and, of course, the protagonist who doesn't quite fit in anywhere.

The beauty of this novel is that it works well alone without the much darker and more important story behind it. But, that being said, it also serves as a very sad and moving voice for rape victims, particularly for those who feel at fault, or scared and embarrassed by what happened. It was a quick, accessible read, but it's also the kind that plays on your mind long after finishing it.
Profile Image for Cara.
279 reviews721 followers
April 16, 2022
Update: Definitely stands up to the test of time (in my humble opinion).

Once I finished reading the last word I knew I was going to reread it. Yes that profound.

Honest. Authentic. Real. Use all those words and their synonyms and you have this book. I literally wanted to hop into the sea of words and tell Melinda Sordino " I'll be your friend! Don't despair !" Alas I couldn't do that though. I had to see her struggle. It's painful but since I watched the movie (which was done well by the way) first before reading the book I knew where she was coming from. Melinda's voice was so...normal. She wasn't there to make you like her or hate her. She just who she really was. I liked her immensely though and in real life think would have been friends with her. Her whole take on high school was hilarious and kind of scarily accurate. I totally love the character of David Petrakis. He would have been my hero in ninth grade. No joke.

The cover fits the story like a glove. Not all book jackets can boast that, so let's give the jacket cover artist a round of applause!!! Ok I need stop raving about the cover so much but I couldn't help it. The visual person inside of me had to let it out.

Melinda is never really described in detail of how she look likes, so you get the sense the author wanted to make her as relatable as possible, and that she is. We all might not have had to go through the same demons she has, but I know we all have felt alone and without help and that is what makes her the perfect narrator. The ending was done so utterly well I'm not sure I can say anything about it. I'd probably give it away if I try. Let's just say getting back at people is very rewarding.

It is getting added to my all time favorites. If you like this book read You Don't Know Me. Not quite the same style but definitely the same feel.
Profile Image for Laurie.
128 reviews
March 8, 2008
Just okay. I was particularly disappointed with the ending and felt that there was an element of glorification in this novel that I didn't appreciate. Let me explain:

Although I loved the fact that Melinda finally finds her voice and a way to express herself, I felt as if the story was wrapped up a little too quickly and too neatly. Let's be honest, that ending was more than a little unrealistic. You can't simply put a pretty bow on the end of this novel, otherwise the entire tale becomes trite. Having been through this myself and sadly listened to countless stories similar (and worse) than mine, I can say that 9 times out of 10 you don't get closure, let alone retribution. And having someone swoop in to save you is pretty much unheard of, otherwise we wouldn't have such a thing as "rape culture" which tragically pervades our country. I think this particular ending potentially puts across the wrong message to girls who might find themselves in a similar situation or who are in this situation.

Nevertheless, it's an important story to be told and there were scenes and emotions that were absolutely right on and very relatable.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for elena ❀.
304 reviews3,183 followers
April 3, 2021
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.

Speak, to me, is taken more as a lesson than just a book. A lesson worth reading and worth analyzing every little detail, no matter how the writing is and no matter how repetitive it can get. It's a short novel where the life of an individual is so much more, and worth so much more, but people don't show that side because they don't believe it to be worth so much. Speak spoke to me. It's a story where you reflect on your past actions of judgment, shamefulness, misguidedness, and even power, especially power. We've all been in those times, judging people, looking at them like we're better than them when in reality, we are nothing close to them. We end up misjudging them but don't realize it after, and I think that's what this book spoke to me the most about. I think it's about giving you a short lesson on finding out the true colors of your friends, the people around you, and seeing how one thing can make a difference for everyone, even when that "everyone" doesn't know the reasons behind the actions that changed every perspective.

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 into it.

Melinda Sordino called the cops on a night at a party, resulting in teens getting busted, arrested, and running for their lives. With that action, everyone ended up hating her, her "best friends" no longer talked to her but instead, they gave her glares and smirks, while other people Melinda doesn't even know hate her from a long distance, resulting in insults and words spoken behind her back. Melinda knows why she called the cops, but there isn't anyone else who does know. Unable to speak after that night, Melinda describes herself as An Outcast, no longer having any friends and anyone willing to listen to her.

Speak is about reflecting on the past actions and understanding that the victim isn't always at fault. It's about speaking up for our belief after not being able to handle the pain of loneliness, sadness, and silence. It's about finding your voice after confronting your biggest fear.

Trigger/content warnings for rape and sexual assault.

Homework is not an option. My bed is sending out serious nap rays. I can't help myself. The fluffy pillows and warm comforter are more powerful than I am. I have no choice but to snuggle under the covers.

I'm not a survivor of rape or any cause of sexual assault, but I'm a survivor of depression, of loneliness, of being an introvert, or shyness, of quietness, and of many sad moments where I can do everything my body allows me to do (sit, lie down, move, walk, run, etc.) except talk. Unlike Melinda, I chose not to talk not because I was too scared to let people know the truth, but because there wasn't any truth I felt worth telling. I was trapped inside my head with my own thoughts as they made their way from my left-brain to my right-brain, shutting everything and everyone down, telling me that no one really cares and is bothering to listen. Melinda did too, but there were times where she wanted to let someone know. I, on the other hand, decide not to chat many times primarily because I hate the way I sound but also because I am afraid of being wrong, of being rejected, and of being laughed at for any comment I made.

In Speak, we follow Melinda through her first year in high school as a new freshman who is already disliked by everyone. After she called the cops on a summer-break party, people started whispering about her, bullying her, insulting her, and never daring to talk to someone like her because she was a nobody to them. Melinda was used to it, but she wishes she had a friend who would listen first, reflect after, decide later. I can't say I relate to Melinda in every way, but I understand some of her thoughts. From the self-harm to the suicide thoughts, it all felt real—it's as if I saw myself in her eyes sometimes, wanting to talk to someone but instantly taking back that thought and keeping my lips shut, canned, sealed.

Melinda is a realistic character. She doesn't hide her reality from us, and as readers, it's our job to figure it out, analyze the descriptions and figure out what she is trying to tell us. And Speak, to me, is the book Melinda wants us to have. She's the narrator, the character telling us her story, and it's up to us to listen or not, to care or do not care, to bother trying or to not waste our energy. I think Melinda would have had a much easier life if she had at least one friend, whether it was a long-distance friendship or a friendship where they couldn't see each other much, but the connection and the communication were still there. I wish she had someone who believed her and would try to do anything she could in her will to be there and listen to Melinda tell her about her awful and exhausting days at school. But it truly made sense for the author to not include it, because sometimes, in books, no sympathy, pity, compassion, grief, empathy, or any caring action should be there in order for the reader to really grasp the reality the character is living and having to go through every single day. And what makes it worse is that the world of this book is so real. We end up seeing the true colors of people after things explode. Our true best friends will end up showing their identities when something bad happens, our one and only friend will leave us for another group only to later regret that choice, and people will end up talking to you like nothing ever happened after your most traumatic experience has been revealed.

I mean, Heather from Ohio, for example, was the true definition of a self-centered bitch who didn't care about anything or anyone besides herself, as if she was the only person in the world. Truly, Melinda deserved better, and Heather got what she deserved. She was never a friend, she was only someone using a lonely girl who didn't talk to anyone because she knew she could brainwash her into believing that she had someone close to her. So she decides to manipulate her and having her "help out" when in reality, she was always doing everything. All in all, Melinda never deserved to suffer more with Heather, and I was really glad Laurie decided to open up her brain and show her the reality of Heather. I also appreciate the fact that she then didn't take any of Heather's bullshit when she went over and "apologized", after telling her she would help her for her stupid Martha’s Group project. I mean, you don't tell a friend what she's gonna do for you Heather, you ask them. Nicely. Politely.

Why is it so hard to make friends here? Is there something in the water? In my old school I could have gone out for the musical and worked on the newspaper and chaired the car wash. Here people don't even know I exist. I get squished in the hall and I don't belong anywhere and nobody cares. And you're no help. You are so negative and you never try anything, you just mope around like you don't care that people talk about you behind your back.

Well, Heather, I guess your only option is to go back, isn't it?

This closet is abandoned—it has no purpose, no name. It is the perfect place for me.

This is a short story, one worth reading in one sitting. 197 pages in and all you can do is either like the book or not, love it or hate it. There's so much to take from it if you find what the author wants you to take from it. It isn't a story for everyone, but it is a story worth knowing about. I personally think it's better to be read from a perspective of someone who understands what it is like to shut yourself down and think to yourself if anyone will notice if you just didn't speak at all. The thing is, people have already noticed. They don't see the "why" and they don't see what is killing you inside, but they notice the outside of you and recognize you as “the girl who called the cops at the party”. It's just that one night can change you forever, either negatively or positively impact you, and there will always come the time where people will not care until they know about it, and that's what bothers me the most.

I think it's such a stupid instinct for us to care about people once we see them hurting, but I also think that's what the beauty of books are. Books can teach us that, the messages that are in front of us but are not close enough for us to see it. Personally, I get lost in the words of the book, not in its world. Many people read in order to escape to another reality or to a fantasy they never could dream of, but I get lost in the words. They also read to lose track of time or find themselves doing something different. I read books because of the enjoyment and comfort they bring me, which leads me to say that I rate books off enjoyment.

I read books because I want to learn something from it, whether it's a non-fiction book, fantasy, sci-fi, classic, I read for the moment I'm in. I read because I want to understand the message or the lesson the narrator is trying to tell me, whether it's one perspective or multiple. Speak is one of those rare books I find myself most comfortable in. The book isn't beautiful nor is any character. There is truly no moral support in this--no friendships, no family dynamics, no useful resources. Yet the author managed to make me love this book and partly regret the fact that I didn't read it before. Even with an obvious plot, childish dialogue, boring characters (except David and Mr. Freeman), I still enjoyed everything in this and managed to mark it as one of my favorite books that I will probably buy the 20th-anniversary edition which comes out January 15 of this year, 2019.

This book can be life-changing. It makes you think about the world we are living and realize that the world in Merryweather High School is similar to many high schools in the world, ranging from country to country. The reason I say life-changing is because, if you pay attention to Melinda and her story, you can see she isn't just "the most depressed person Heather has ever met" but instead, as someone who is struggling with her nightmares that keep haunting her because she got raped and didn't really know. She isn't just "Sordino, sitting in the front row, always wandering the halls" because she wants to, it's because she doesn't have other options. She's alone and has no one to rely on, yet she still manages to survive, and I think she's a strong realistic character who had character growth in the end. The story is short, and the truth is set free in the end as well, so it is reasonable and valid for the author to let it all out in the beginning, resulting in Melinda showing her strength towards Andy and no longer being an outcast but instead the girl who was hiding her truth because she was scared.

Described as both problematic but also empowered, it can be balanced on a scale of both. Personally, I find it empowering. Although I wasn't the biggest fan of the writing, Laurie Halse Anderson wrote this book from a nightmare she had of a girl who was sobbing. What she heard from the girl, she wrote it, and she wrote this. I'm guessing the girl crying was Melinda, since she said in the interview (a bonus from the platinum edition) that it happened to be that way, and I don’t think Anderson even thought her book would be a book so many teens find comfort in.

I didn't go into this book knowing everything. I had seen this book before, on many lists here on Goodreads and overall, I had seen it pop up in my feed as friends and reviewers added it to their tbr. I had seen it in my library, both in the YA section and sometimes displayed as "featured books" for specific events and read-a-thons my local libraries host. I never got the urge to pick it up, and I'm glad I did at this time. I appreciated the way she wrote this as if it was multiple diary entries towards the reader. Told in the first-person perspective, Melissa takes us on her journey through the present and the past, with the present being the person she is at the moment and the past being flashbacks.

I won't lie. Initially, I checked this out from my library because it's been on "life-changing books" lists on Goodreads and mentioned in other blogs as "life-changing" and I needed a life-changing book, specifically because there's a college application asking for it. It's asking for a book that changed my life and how it's changed the way I view everything (life, the world, people, myself, etc.) and I didn't know where to start beside with books that have been labeled as problematic, empowered, and realistic. Speak is one of them, and there's more to come soon.

"What are your goals, Mel?"
I used to be like Heather. Have I changed that much in two months? She is happy, driven, aerobically fit. She has a nice mom and an awesome television. But she's like a dog that keeps jumping into your lap. She always walks with me down the halls chattering a million miles a minute.
My goal is to go home and take a nap.

Every character in the story is bizarre, choosing to listen to rumors and not choose the facts. They’re truly misguided and haven’t been taught well. They also judge Melinda on the way she's seen, not letting her sit with them, throwing mashed potato at her, kneeing her, childishly taping insults written on a piece of paper to her back, glaring and smirking at her as if she was prey and they are predators. It truly is sad how judgemental the world is and continues to be. I don't think it's getting better, but instead, it's getting worse. There are racist comments in this, but it's fine. It's made by a character you can show nothing but hate towards because of his attitude and the power he believes he holds. Then I met David and the whole view changes because I then saw that there is still hope in the world and there always will be, as there will always be that one person sticking up for everyone because he or she isn't afraid of it.

You don't understand, my headvoice answers. Too bad she can't hear it. My throat squeezes shut, as if two hands of black fingernails are clamped on my windpipe. I have worked so hard to forget every second of that stupid party, and here I am in the middle of a hostile crowd that hates me for what I had to do. I can't tell them what really happened. I can't even look at that part of myself. An animal noise rustles in my stomach.

Melinda should be a sympathetic character, but I can't show it. It's rare for me to read contemporary and realistic fiction without feeling some sort of care or sympathy towards the character. There isn't anything wrong with Melinda, but I knew I was gonna get an answer from her. The hope I held on to while reading this was the only thing I had left, but it was only for her, as there was no hope from anyone else for anyone because everyone in this seems to be selfish and think they have conquered the world in so many ways.

When I went to that party, I was abducted by aliens. They have created a fake Earth and fake high school to study me and my reactions. This certainly explains cafeteria food. Not the other stuff, though. The aliens have a sick sense of humor.

I didn't know Speak was adapted to a movie. While the window for this review was open on my laptop, I decided to watch it. Since the movies adapted from books always have at least some similarity, I knew most of it. I knew what conversation was about to happen, I knew who was who, I knew the ending, I knew the plot. But here's the thing: the ending of the book and the movie are different, many scenes are cut, and many dialogues are completely different. It all makes sense since books are always better and the movies are never the same as the book, but I guess I expected more. The book is short, but so is the movie. I think the best I got from the movie was the friendship between Melinda and David that grew. Not in a romantic way but in a platonic way, and it felt to me like he really cared for her, even in the book. He wasn't just using her, he didn't stay away from her, he tried helping her, he invited her to do Biology homework, and it looked like he wanted to be her friend. In the end, I think they end up as friends, but both endings, in the movie and the book, we are left with wanting more.

In the book, Melinda ends it with "Let me tell you about it" while in the movie, the ending is completely different, as it ends with Melinda and her mother. At that point, I didn't care much. I literally skipped it because I couldn't take any bullshit from her parents. There was no support and no relationship between Melinda and both of her parents. They didn't even try, they just noticed, as everyone else does. It was sad to see it that way, the reality, that even her parents don't try but only notice. It's as if they hear the rumors and notice the way it plays into Melinda's life but don't ever ask about it.

In the end, Melinda showed growth. With the help of Mr. Freeman (by the way, we all need a teacher like him, no matter what subject!), she was able to find her truth and let it out. She was able to see herself as someone much more than who she was, letting out the birds that were trapped in the cage as she paints not her past life but her current life.

After reading Melinda’s last sentence to Mr. Freeman, I realized I’ve been that bird trapped in my cage, not allowing to set myself free because I’m still scared. We all have a voice, but we also have a choice. I think we all make the choice of using our voice when the right time comes, but for now, I don’t think it’s that time. I can’t see myself speaking up for someone or for something. Although I’m really passionate about immigration law, I can’t become the activist I see myself as at times. I can’t see myself yelling at Republicans but instead, I see myself as the small girl who is being towered over by the Republicans themselves as they smirk at me knowing they have won.

But hopefully, I’ll find my soft voice soon and use it for the best.

You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
August 14, 2019
oh goodness me. i dont even want to begin this review because, even though im sticking to my rating, i feel super guilty for rating this so low. but its been awhile since ive read this and i finally feel like i can articulate why this book just isnt for me.

firstly, i want to say that the topic of this story is extremely important and deserves the representation it gets in this. melindas high school experience is vastly different than my own, but i can empathise that sexual assault is something that happens, even when its something i was never aware of at that age. so i appreciate the visibility of this serious issue and i know this story will help those that are/have gone though something similar.

that being said, THIS BOOK IS SOOOO BORING. which makes me feel guilty because should i expect to find entertainment in a story so heavy? probably not. but i do need my attention to be held, and this just didnt capture it. its slow and melinda is a very difficult person to connect with. not a good combination. maybe if i had read this as a teen, my reaction might be a bit different. but other than the overall message of the story, i just couldnt find anything redeeming about the novel itself. such a shame.

2.5 stars
December 30, 2017

The following review will touch upon serious topics and under the spoiler section I might hide TMI (too much information) tags. If you don't want to know about my own personal journey don't read because it might be umconfortable and triggering. I'll use strong language.

I also want to point out that I read this book long ago and that I won't re-read for this review. I just want to discuss the following question(s) which I found in the review of one of my favorite Goodreads reviewers ever: my dear Meredith. BTW I recommend following her reviews.

Meredith wrote this:
Should Laurie Halse Anderson's book "Speak" be placed in the adult section because it deals with rape? No. It is a teen book that touches upon a serious topic that teens are very much aware of. How many people were assigned "The Handmaid's Tale" in high school which basically is all about women being used for their bodies to reproduce since a majority of the population can not. Should that be added to the adult section only? No.

I agree with Meredith 100%. I'll go even beyond that. I think this book along with any other book that deals with rape culture should be mandatory read in every high school of this messed-up planet. Even if parents might feel unconfortable with their kids reading this book, the sad reality is that rape is a crime that has no respect for the victims' age. Kids might be better prepared to deal with this crime if they get the right information.

If you have been following my reviews you'll notice that lately I've been adding trigger warnings and explicit content warnings for YA books. That's because lately you can find almost the same amount of nudity, violence, sexuality, erotic content, and edgyness in YA books as you would find in New adult reads,even erotica books. I've been mentioning A court of mist and fury a lot because it's erotica book misllabed as Young adult by the greedy publishing company and their kirkus reviews minions. Paper princess by erotica authors Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick along with Sarah J Maas Empire of storms have been mentioned as well.

Yet I won't add those kind of warnings for this review.

I wouldn't try to get 13- 19 YO teens away of this book

I dissaprove of anyone who wants to keep teens away from this book

You'll wonder Why?


1) Rape is a crime. Some people might consider that this book contains sexual content because rape, at times, involves a form of fornication/copulation. But to make it clear, sex is one thing: a natural act that isn't a sin, that isn't dirty, that it's a healthy expression of afection, a natural instinct. Rape is everything but.

2) Anyone who reads the book sypnosis can make an informed decision whether to buy/read/borrow this book or not. The blurb is a trigger warning in itself. Unlike Mist and Fury and Paper princess the author and her publishing company didn't try to pretend that this book is something different that what it is: Edgy, dark and uncomfortable.

Yes. This book isn't a fluffy happy reading, yet I remember enjoying Melinda Sordino's journey back when I was 16 YO. The author has a way with words, it was like Melinda was directly speaking to me, she was so relatable. This book didn't make me feel uncomfortable back when I read it, it was dark and gritty, but it was also a quick read and the quotes were to die for. I highlighted this book so much it became almost unreadable and I'm only sorry that I'm completely uncapable to read this book now after TMI I hate that word, but I hate it more when that thing is called "abuse" "violation" or any other term. Rape is an ugly world, sounds terrible it disgusts you as IT SHOULD. "Abuse", on the other hand, seems to elicit a less dramatic response.

But guess what word is closer to what living that terrible experience is? The word rape conveys it better, at the very least it'll make people squirm uncomfortably. TMI ALERT That's what this book is about, and for such a dark topic, I think the author did a wonderful job using a beautiful prose, almost poetic, to talk about how SCARY rape is. She never went graphic with that. The movie is in my humble opinion, way much more explicit and visual, but the book wasn't explicit. Laurie Halse Anderson really wrote about the subject with enough delicacy to not scare the reader away, but still she managed to do it on a realistic way. TMI

I know the topic of this book might scare some people away, but I highly recommend it, specially for high school readers. As long as this book is used to elicit discussions on rape culture and parents talk to their kids honestly this book should be mandatory reading. I repeat, there's much than just drama in this book, it's actually a quick read and enjoyable despite the dark topic. Unlike A court of mist and fury the purpose of this book isn't to portray erotic scenes or sexual content because again, sexuality and rape are opposite concepts. This book conveys a powerful message that can help teenagers who are living in violent places. I'll repeat, maybe parents and children can read this together so that the parents can convey their values and their own views on consent.

Consider letting Melinda Sordino story enter your life. I did, and it was like a light at the end of a dark tunnel, it might sound cheesy, but that's the truth.

Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
November 27, 2018
4 Stars.

Speaking. Sometimes it’s absolutely impossible, isn’t it? Sometimes you are so filled with anxiety and fear, you can’t even think of the words, let alone spit them out. And sometimes, life itself is crippling. You will undergo something that overtakes you, that consumes every waking thought, that fills you with fear and changes every aspect of your life and still you cannot talk about it. To anyone, whether you have someone to confide in or not.

Melinda is that girl. She is a misfit. A pariah. A freshman, who everyone in her class hates. No one talks to her, except to make fun of her. She wasn’t always this way though. Not until she called the cops at the end of a summer party and got caught doing so by her former best friend who now hates her for it. And that was what did it. That party changed everything for Melinda. That one night. And now, she doesn’t talk to anyone. Not even her parents. Her grades are sinking and her parents are furious over it and she can’t explain why. And except for caring about her grades, her parents aren’t all that concerned about their daughter. No wonder she decided to keep quiet.

At some point, Melinda finds herself in a situation wherein she realizes that must find her voice. She then discovers a resilience that she never knew she had and then she SPEAKS.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is full of emotion. It is captivating yet devastating. I was overwhelmed by the honesty that was portrayed by Melinda through out. Laurie Halse Anderson did an incredible job of capturing Melinda’s feelings and describing the awkwardness of High School, being an outcast and feeling completely alone during the most desperate of times. This is a powerful YA novel about learning to accept the things you cannot change and finding the strength and power within to fight for yourself, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Published on Goodreads and Amazon on 4/3/17.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,426 reviews35.2k followers
July 3, 2019
4.5 stars

*This is another book which I would not have picked up had it not been for a book challenge. So happy I did. This serves as a nice reminder that stepping outside of what we would normally choose can, and in this case, did pay off.

High School. Some remember it as the happiest time of their lives while others are so happy when it is over that they never want to look back. Where do you stand?

Melinda is an outcast, a pariah, she has no friends. She is lonely, depressed, anxious and carrying a secret around with her. Secret- six simple letters which can feel like a ton of bricks when one carries it around with them. This book shows how one night changed everything for her and destroyed her friendships and once happy life.

Melinda called the police during a party and the entire school has turned on her. As the school year progresses, she deteriorates more. She begins to get bad grades, she skips school, she doesn't speak she doesn't confide in others, she only finds solace in her art. Her art teacher is the only teacher in her school who shows an interest in her and encourages her to express herself through her art.

Told with heartbreaking honesty and with devastating insight, speak shows the cruelty of high school students. The fragility of friendships, how warning signs are missed and how the ones who need it the most, often fall through the cracks. Speak is well-written, poignant, and evokes emotion.

This is a book I am reading (well, I finished it first) with my fifteen-year-old and will be discussing when both of us have completed it. Great book in a great format for teens. There is a lot to discuss here.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews618 followers
November 8, 2017
Library - Overdrive-ebook!

I’m very late to this reading this really wonderful young adult book.....but oh,I’m sooooo glad I read it!

Melinda Sordino, sarcastically witty, bright, and courageous, is very memorable character. A freshman in High School, .... most of the time Melinda’s goal in life is to go home and take a nap.
We emphasized with her.....as she is misunderstood- and shunned by friends. Melinda doesn’t understand her own situation clearly enough to speak out for herself.
She’s an average normal girl dealing with many of the same issues that many teenagers deal with - self esteem - changing schools from middle school to High School - changing friends - and family dynamics- except ....back in 8th grade .... just before beginning High School — Melinda was raped at a party one night.
This is her story!

There is so much honesty .....so well written....(who doesn’t read this book in just one sitting?)....characters that are powerfully drawn....and a gripping plot....
This story touches every part of us. Our mind and hearts are actively expanding.
It’s an empowering book for teens, parents, educators, and the rest of us.

I’m only sorry I waited so long to read it.
May 5, 2021

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

When I was a freshman, the girl behind me in one of my classes tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I reminded her of the girl in SPEAK. I don't even remember what the context for this revelation was. It was right before class was about to start and I was just minding my own business. I was extremely socially phobic and carried around a drawing notebook and did the same sort of nervous lip-chewing thing and I was like, huh this sounds like a trap. But when you're a kid and someone tells you that you remind them of a character in a book, you read the book. So I got my hands on a copy of Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK and I was... well, horrified.

Because, you know, the rape thing.

Don't get me wrong. I loved the book. With all the chipper, nostalgic YA fiction coming of age stories coming out with the plucky and indomitable heroines, it was so refreshing to read about a character who was miserable and didn't care who knew about it. I can't tell you how many fucking people-- teachers alike-- told me to "smile" when I was young. In her case, her depression was a by-product of her trauma and social shaming. In my case, it was just depression. And that isn't to trivialize depression at all, but in my mind, at age fourteen, it felt a little strange to find myself relating to a character so strongly and yet not have the same sort of external reasons that she did. It made me feel like my depression was unwarranted and maybe undeserved, which caused a lot of angst.

I'm surprised more people don't like Melinda Sordino's character, to be honest. SPEAK has such mixed reviews among my friends. Some people took issue with Melinda's snarkiness (which felt super accurate to me). Some took issue with the way rape was presented and treated (which is a fair point-- especially since not all victims of sexual abuse have the same experiences, although this isn't something I can personally speak to with much authority). Some people didn't like the writing style, which is also fair. It's formatted almost like a teen's notebook and it really does read like someone's found journal. Reading this book gave me all of the same feels that I got reading it the first time, and even though I'm slightly less jaded and misanthropic now than I was as a kid, I love the portrayal of adolescent angst. It also talked about issues that not a lot of adults writing YA talked about at the time, or that weren't readily available and widely publicized if they were. The only book I can really think of that I had access to and read at the time that talked about sexual assault and the unhappiness and angst that sometimes comes with being a girl was HOUSE ON MANGO STREET by Sandra Cisneros.

This is a book I would recommend to any teen who is tired of reading sugary-sweet stories written by adults that kind of romanticize the high school experience and want to read something "real." It was published a while ago so it does have a slightly warped and un-PC reflection of high school and its students, but this is really what high school was like where I went, and a lot of the people and the things they do and say have real-life counterparts in my own memories. Just, you know, maybe learn from my classmate and don't go around telling people that they remind you of Melinda Sordino.

5 stars
Profile Image for Maditales.
581 reviews23.8k followers
November 16, 2022
This book was painful to read.

My tears were streaming down my face and the pain that Mel went through was written in such a descriptive way that I had to put this down multiple times.

Mel’s story is heartbreaking and something that happens to so many people in real life which made this book even sadder.

I loved the critique of schools in here because yes, schools pretend they care but they do not. They say they listen to you but they don’t.

Mel went through so much after what happened to her and the inclusion of family, friends, fake people, the not understanding and judging of others was written beautifully and heartbreaking at the same time.

Mel went through phases of realization, denim and acceptance and well as the beginning of a trying to heal process in this book and watching her go through it was painful yet when she started standing up for herself I was cheering her on.

The only reason it doesn’t have 5 stars is the very fast paced change revolving the friends story. I felt like we needed a few more chapters.

Tw: sexual assault, self harm, depression
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,606 reviews5,993 followers
April 6, 2014
I know. A ton of people liked this book. I'm giving this crap a one star though.

I never did connect with this books main character. I finally was to the point where I didn't give a shit anymore when the big reveal came about why she was having so many problems. I felt somewhat sorry for her then but it still just didn't pull through enough for me.
Profile Image for Maureen.
574 reviews4,185 followers
September 4, 2015
This is such an important book for the content and message it presents. The writing was fantastic and Melinda was such an interesting character to read. I didn't totally LOVE everything about it, but overall it was a fantastic book.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,110 reviews6,574 followers
February 13, 2017
Hmmmm I can definitely see how important this book is and would have been at the time of its publication, but the thing is, I was bored until the last 30 pages. I felt really disconnected to the story and I don't know why. I am so glad that books like this exist in the YA genre though, and that this one was around a long time ago because these things happen and really do need to be discussed. Such an important message.
Profile Image for Jessica Abarquez.
12 reviews30 followers
April 10, 2008
Reference information:
Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Penguin Group Year: 1999
# of pages: 198 Genre: intense read
Reading level: 9th grade Interest level: late high school
Potential hot lava: Thoughts of suicide and rape.

General response/reaction:
This book was so moving. Yes, it was difficult to read and very intense, but it was extremely good! I sort of knew how it was going to end because I cheated and looked it up, but it was still so good to read this book. I was glad that Anderson did not go into detail about the rape because that would have been too intense for me. I liked the way she kept the narration in Melinda’s head. The dialogue in her head remained realistic because no girl would want to replay the details over and over again. This novel was amazing because Melinda grew through her tragedy. I think that this book can be very therapeutic for many students.

Subjects, Themes, and Big Ideas:

• Trust
• Friendship
• Pain
• Suffering
• Growth
• Strength

• Melinda – main character, narrator, was raped when she was 13, goes through her first year of high school as an outcast because she cannot fully grow past the tragedy in her life, expresses herself through art
• Heather – a girl who befriended Melinda at the beginning and then blew her off at the end
• Ivy – an old friend from middle school, in art class with Melinda, at first was mad at Melinda but then warmed up to her by the end
• Rachel – Melinda’s ex-best friend, hangs out with the exchange students at school, starts dating Andy Evans (the boy who raped Melinda)
• Andy Evans – the boy who raped Melinda, has a history of doing the same thing to every girl he meets.

Plot summary:
Melinda is starting high school with all the problems imaginable. She is an outcast because she is “weird,” her friends from middle school don’t want to associate with her because she called the police that broke up a party, and the teachers are “out to get her.” At first, she befriends a girl who is new to the school, Heather. For a while, things seem to work out between the two. Unfortunately, Melinda keeps to herself all the time and barely speaks. She has a secret inside of her that torments all the words. Most of the school thinks she is weird and her parents and teachers think something is wrong with her. They think she is just being a delinquent, but there is more to the story than what Melinda lets on.

Melinda goes through the motions of school and barely passes. She makes some friends, but she is so scarred from the summer that she is still uncomfortable getting too close to anyone. Melinda does not trust anyone, nor can she trust herself. The only thing in school Melinda enjoys is her art class. She works hard all year by creating and letting her emotions flow through her art (although she does not know it at the time).

As the year goes on, she encounters the boy who raped her. He knows that he still has the power over her and continues to use it to scare her into silence. However, when Andy starts dating Rachel, Melinda cannot stand back and let Andy do the same thing to her former best friend. It takes a while for Melinda to get the courage to tell Rachel, but she finally does. Of course Rachel does not believe Melinda and she thinks that Melinda is just jealous, but Melinda at least tried. When Rachel breaks up with Andy (because he was trying to do the same thing to her as he did to Melinda), Andy becomes furious and goes after Melinda. She fights him and makes enough commotion for her friends to come back to find out what was going on and Andy gets exposed for who he really is.

Strengths (including reviews and awards):
• The book is funny.
• It is written in the mind of a teenager so it’s easy for students to relate to.
• It has won many awards (School Library Journal Book of the Year just to name one)
• It has been turned into a Lifetime movie (so students could have a visual instead of just Melinda’s thoughts.

Drawbacks or other cautions:
• There is a short section where Melinda thinks about and attempts suicide.
• It talks about at 13 year old getting raped.
• There are some parts that do not seem realistic (David suing Mr. Neck)

Teaching ideas:
• Journal: What was your first year of high school like?
o Hopefully I will be teaching this book to a higher grade than freshmen, so this question would be appropriate. I would hope that I get journals that reflect on how much they have changed since that first year.
• Discussion: Cliques in high school
o What kinds of cliques exist in our school?
o Do they get special privileges?
o How can you differentiate between the cliques?
o Who decides who joins which clique?
o This could also be a journal topic

During reading
• More journaling or discussions about cliques
o How do certain cliques treat others in school?
 How does that relate to the novel?
o Have you witnessed treatment like this?
• Writing Activity (these could be quick daily journal activities)
o Inner-monologue
 Write a number of inner-monologues like Melinda does.
• Artwork
o Try to describe each section of the book in drawings
o Explain the story to someone without using words

• Possibly watch clips of the movie
o I haven’t seen it so I would definitely have to preview it before I showed it to the class.
• More artwork
• Compile the daily inner-monologues into a “book” like hers
• Discussion
o How has this book educated you?
 About cliques, rape, outcasts, reaching out to others
o What can we do to change the dynamic of the social scene in high school? Is there anything at all?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ruby Granger.
Author 3 books46.9k followers
March 7, 2020
I did really enjoy this book, even though the writing style was pretty simple... the plot more than made up for it. It's such an important topic and I love that the reader only gradually grows to understand what has happened (mirroring Melinda's memory).

I would recommend to high school students. Even though some of the content is disturbing, it's an important book for teenagers to read -- and the writing style means it's really accessible.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,521 reviews9,010 followers
September 5, 2009
"Speak" is about Melinda Sordino, an angst-filled freshman who is hated by all of her "best friends" because she called the cops during the end of the summer senior party. Everyone got busted. Her parents aren't much help either, always fighting about what's best for Melinda and communicating through post-it notes on the refrigerator wall. These are only a few of the things that have Melinda depressed. When what really happened at the senior party is revealed, it will be easy, although painful, to understand Melinda's unbreakable silence.

I just finished my second read through of the book, and I still loved it. I actually had to read this for school, which surprised me because of the subject matter. Anyway, "Speak" is a novel I think all teenagers should read. Melinda's voice, although cynical and outspoken, was dead-on and as a teenager I felt like I totally connected with her through the entire book. I also loved the "tree" symbolism in Melinda's art class, subtle enough to not be cliche but powerful enough to make me feel growth. Some YA authors don't really understand how cliques and stuff work nowadays, but Anderson hit the nail on the head, which made me like the book even more. I stayed up to midnight last night finishing this novel, and I'm sure you will to once you get a hold of this book.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
September 5, 2017
Updating to add a trigger warning which I really should've before
I debated for a long time what to rate this and decided on 4 stars because this book honestly perfectly captures the thoughts and feelings that run through your head when you go through a situation like Melinda's. This book was extremely hard for me to read as it hit very, very close to home and for that reason, I just couldn't give it 5 stars.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
September 4, 2016
This is a very powerful book: it deals with rape and depression in one of the most realistic and poignant ways I've read. I rated it 4.5.

The only reason I didn't give it a 5 was because I could not see myself in Melinda. I am very self-aware and I know that I would not have responded in any of the same ways that she did. This does not devalue any of the book though. I could still absolutely empathize with Melinda, I completely understood and appreciated her.

One of the things that I most enjoyed was the writing.. The prose is beautiful and there were a couple of lines that I just had to mark because of the impact they made.

Overall, an incredible read and I think it deserves all of the praise it has gotten.

A few of the quotations I flagged because they 'Spoke' to me:
'Maybe I'll be an artist if I ever grow up.'
'She must be a great writer if the school board is afraid of her.'
'Instead of multicultural, we have no-cultural.'
'I feel bad that I didn't fold more shirts for her.'
'I just want anyone to like me. I want a note with a heart on it.'
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
September 18, 2021
Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak, published in 1999, is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson that tells the story of high school freshman Melinda Sordino. The novel was based on Anderson's personal experience of having been raped as a teenager and the trauma she faced. Speak is a first-person, diary-like narrative.

Written in the voice of Melinda Sordino, it features lists, subheadings, spaces between paragraphs and script-like dialogue.

The fragmented style mimics Melinda's trauma. The choppy sentences and blank spaces on the pages relate to Melinda's fascination with Cubism.

The summer before her freshman year of high school, Melinda Sordino meets senior Andy Evans at a high school party.

During the party, Andy rapes Melinda. In shock, Melinda calls 9-1-1, but does not know what to say and runs home.

The police come and break up the party, and some people are arrested.

Melinda does not tell anyone what happened to her, and nobody asks.

Melinda is befriended by Heather, a girl who is new to the community.

However, once Heather realizes that Melinda is depressed and an outcast, she ditches Melinda to sit with the "Marthas," a group of girls who seem charitable and outgoing, but are actually selfish and cruel.

As Melinda's depression deepens, she begins to skip school, withdrawing from her already distant parents and other authority figures, who see her silence as means of getting "attention".

She slowly befriends her lab partner, David Petrakis, who encourages her to speak up for herself. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «یه چیزی بگو»؛ «حرف بزن»؛ نویسنده: لاوری‌ (لوری) هالس (هلس) اندرسن؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز هفدهم ماه سپتامبر سال 2017میلادی

عنوان: یه چیزی بگو؛ نویسنده: لاوری‌ (لوری) هالس (هلس) اندرسن؛ برگردان حمیدرضا صدر؛ تهران، چشمه، 1395؛ 214ص؛ شابک9786002296818؛ چاپ سوم 1395؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: حرف بزن؛ نویسنده: لاوری‌ (لوری) هالس (هلس) اندرسن؛ تهران، پیدایش، 1398؛ در 256ص؛ شابک9786002966131؛

حرفت را بزن - میخواهیم بدانیم چه برای گفتن داری؛ «ملیندا»، از نخستین لحظه ی ورودش به دبیرستان «مری وتر»، میداند که همگی این حرفها دروغ و بخشی از مزخرفات دوران دبیرستان است؛ او هیچ دوستی ندارد و رانده شده است، چرا که در گذشته با زنگ زدن به پلیس، مهمانی پایان تابستان بچه ها را خراب کرده است، و اکنون هیچکس با او گفتگو نمیکند و به حرفهایش نیز گوش نمیدهند؛ با گذر زمان، «ملیندا» بیشتر منزوی، و دست از سخن گفتن میکشد، تنها کلاس هنر، اندکی تسلی بخش او هست، و از راه کار خویش که پروژه ای هنری است، سرانجام میتواند با آنچه که در آن مهمانی ترسناک رخ داده بود، روبرو شود: او را یک سال بالایی مورد آزار قرار داده بود؛ کسی که همچنان در «مری وتر» است، و تهدیدی برای «ملیندا» به شمار میآید، در رمان «لاوری (لوری) هالس (هلس) اندرسن»، قهرمانی مونث و به شدت باورپذیر، با زبان طعنه آمیز و گزنده ی خود، دنیای ریاکارانه ی دبیرستان را، به چالش میکشد؛ «ملیندا»، نماینده ی بسیاری از نوجوانانی است، که از حق خود محروم مانده، و اهمیت حرف زدن و پای حق و حقوق خود ایستادن را، به همگان گوشزد میکند

نقل از آغاز متن یه چیزی بگو: (ترم اول: به دبیرستان «مری وِدِرهای» خوش آمدید؛ این نخستین صبح حضور من در دبیرستانه؛ هفت تا کتابچه ی نو دارم، دامنی که از اون بیزارم، و یک شکم دردمند؛ اتوبوس مدرسه خس خس کنان کنارم توقف میکنه؛ در باز میشه و میرم بالا؛ اولین نفری ام که سوار شده؛ هنوز وسط اتوبوس سرگردونم که راننده راه میافته؛ کجا بشینم؟ هرگز یکی از اون مست و ملنگهای آخر اتوبوس نبوده م؛ اگه وسط بشینم ممکنه یه غریبه کنارم بشینه؛ اگه جلو هم بشینم شبیه بچه به نظر میآم، ولی فکر میکنم بیشترین بختی که شاید چشمم بیفته توی چشم یکی از دوستام در اینه که همین جلو بشینم، البته اگه دوستی مونده باشه که بخواد با من حرف بزنه؛ اتوبوسْ بچه ها رو در گروههای چهار پنج تایی سوار میکنه؛ اونا وقتی از کنارم رد میشن نگاهی هم بهم میندازن، همونایی که یا در آزمایشگاه کنارِ هم بودیم یا توی زمین ورزش؛ چشمام رو میبندم؛ این همون چیزی بوده که ازش وحشت داشتم؛ بعد از آخرین توقف من تنها کسی ام که تک وتنها نشسته م؛ راننده میزنه دنده سنگین تا ما رو از شیب تندی بالا ببره؛ تلق تلوق موتور جوریه که فکر میکنید پسرای نشسته روی صندلیهای آخر از خودشون صداهای وقیحانه ای درمیآرن؛ یکی بیش از حد به خودش ادوکلن زده؛ جون میکَنم پنجره رو باز کنم ولی قفل تکون نمیخوره؛ یکی از پسرای پشت سری شروع میکنه به خوردن صبحانه و کاغذ دور یه شیرینی رو پرت میکنه طرف من؛ کاغذ میافته روی زانوم، مارک شیرینیش رو میشناسم.)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 26/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Calista.
4,075 reviews31.3k followers
June 2, 2020
A powerful story! I don't think a 5 star book has to be perfect. No story is perfect. This story tells an amazing story, but the end has problems for me and I still love this book. When a book makes me feel so much and I simply can't put it down, that's a 5 star review.

There isn't any way to review this without spoilers:

Spoiler Warning:

Melinda was at a senior party and called the cops and everyone knows and so she is now the 9th grade pariah and outcast. The reason she really called the cops was she needed help. She was raped and didn't know what to do. She couldn't speak after that. The rest of the year her grades tank and she has one somewhat friend. Art is the only class she feels safe in.

The whole year she barely speaks. She is alone, in pain and depressed and she can't deal with her wounds. She needs to speak and can't. It's only when her used to be best friend starts dating the same guy she had an encounter with that she does speak.

The problem with the ending is we don't get to see the character arc. It stops at the climax and there is nothing after. The moment of change is when Melinda speaks out. We don't get to see the change in Melinda. The last few pages show the change in other people toward her. We don't get to see how her parents react as they didn't handle it well. How does finally speaking changer Melinda??? We don't get to see it. The character arc is not completed. We are left hanging.

I wanted to see the change inside this inward character and I didn't get to see it. I didn't get to see how anyone around her helped her. I don't know that I've loved a book so much when the ending isn't that good, but I feel Laurie really blew the ending.

The point of the story was the pain Laurie was in and how frozen she was. How is was all too much to deal with. It was brilliant how Laurie did that. I read 170 pages of this in 2 days once I got into this and couldn't put it down. It was fascinating being in Melinda's head and wanting to help her and reach out to her and not being able too. I never dealt with rape or something like that in school, but I did struggle with depression and I know what she was feeling inside. I understood her.

The book is an amazing study on angst and depression in high school, but the ending is a real miss. It has to be one of the worst endings I've seen. Who helped her after she helped herself? What came out of her once the dam broke.

I do recommend this book to people, anyone who has struggled in life with feelings and overwhelm.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
905 reviews1,818 followers
December 11, 2017
There are no doubts that it is a very important book for the subject it deals with. We need so many more books on this subject but I want them to actually “speak”.

So something happened at a party to Melinda and she stops speaking. She is not popular in school; in fact her friends have started to cut her. They don’t want to see her anymore as they find this “not speaking” behavior strange but they don’t try hard to extract the reason for this. They just accept without questioning her. Same is the case with her parents. And that’s where my issue with this book lies. No one just waste a single breath on thinking about this sudden change. Neither the parents nor the friends. Why did not they talked to her or made her to talk? Tell them what’s wrong.

Though the girl in the end starts expressing herself, and I am happy about it but it came a little too late for my liking. Girls who go through such incident need love and support; and not “ignore her” attitude that Mel got in this story. This book could have delivered a strong message but I didn’t do so, at least for me.
Profile Image for Danielle.
833 reviews452 followers
February 17, 2022
Another book that has sat on my TBR list for entirely too long… 🛑Trigger Warning’s: rape, depression, bullying, self harm. 🛑 This book read kinda like a diary to me, first person POV, but not complete in scenes. It’s a hard read, for sure! 😬 But I can see how it can be helpful for YA readers.
Profile Image for Mary.
92 reviews14 followers
September 8, 2007
Wow. I started reading this to entertain myself on a long subway ride home at 2 am, thinking I'd skim a bit and start reading it the next day. The next time I looked at the clock it was five in the morning and I was devouring the last lines of the novel. It is dangerously, fantastically gripping, not necessarily because the plot is so amazing, but because Anderson gets Melinda's voice so very, very right. Melinda is such a thoughtfully rendered portrait of a smart, funny, terribly depressed teenager that I was hooked from her very first lines. To me, the actual story was almost extraneous—the plot itself is a bit unwieldy—but Melinda's anxiety, isolation, and desperate attempts to cope with the horrors of adolescence were so real it was spooky.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 8, 2009
bleg. greg loooooved this book and said it made him wish he had written his own angst-books in high school, but i was a teenage girl and he wasnt, and this just didnt do it for me. its not poorly written at all, i just have never liked books that were about clique-y high schools because i couldnt relate to them at all. maybe i just went to a smaller, or a nicer, high school. but i can definitely see the value of this for a teen reader, and i really liked the authors note on censorship at the end. so a high three.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
November 7, 2018
Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

Reread most recently on the cusp of the twentieth anniversary of the book's publication, for my fall 2018 YA class, also with Anderson's graphic novel version of the book, illustrated impressively by Emily Carroll.

If you haven't read this book and don;t know why it is Melinda doesn't speak (much, except in the journal of her ninth grade year, which is the novel Speak, you may not want to continue reading this review.

Perennial fave in my YA course, and an important moment in the history of Young Adult Literature. Published in 1999, it features a girl, Melinda, who was raped at a party by an upperclassman in the month before her ninth grade year at Merryweather High School. She calls 911 but then, traumatized by what has happened to her, something she was too young to fully understand, she largely stops talking about what happened, which gets most people in school to hate her. Many books on (teen) rape now exist but few are also witty, filled with snarky teen humor, and so alive with a real vibrant central character, and so well written, with such great insights into teen experiences of adolescence. Should a book on this topic also be funny? Well, this one is, and you will laugh out loud at many observations the darkly acerbic Melinda makes about her school and the teachers and students in the school. And underneath that surface humor is the Act that can never be Un-Acted, the horror compounded by social isolation and misunderstanding.

Melinda rarely actually speaks in this first year, because she is resented for calling that cops at that party. They don't know why she called the cops, though, and no one seems to really care to ask. She loses friends and is bullied. Another issue? "It" (the rapist) is a student at her school, and still a threat to her and others. Her parents's marriage is in trouble, so they have no time to ask her what is going on.

One resource for her is Art class, and the cool art teacher, Mr. Freeman, who doesn't intrude but makes space for her to explore her obvious experiences. Her year project, the topic of which she pulls out of a hat,is a tree. It's a cliche, maybe, but Melinda is urged throughout the year to try and try again to express herself through that simple image. The power of art to redeem is important in this story, as is the power of telling one's story. This is not a perfect story (I have some small issues with the resolution of the story, which conveniently involves a field hockey team in the right place at the right time), but it is an important one for schools and those who work with young people, and teens---both boys and girls--who need to know what rape is and what speaking truth to power is all about.
Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 106 books83.5k followers
July 12, 2009
I just re-read SPEAK for the first time since it came out, so you know I'd forgotten the details of the story. I remembered it being a harder read this time than it was the first time. I'm not sure if knowledge of the big reveal made the tension bigger for me this time, but I still have to say this is a smashing read.

Melinda called the cops on a wild end-of-summer party before she started ninth grade, and now she doesn't have a friend in the world except new girl Heather, who has plans for getting to the top social ranks in high school and doesn't yet realize that friendship with Melinda will ensure that she never achieves them. Melinda, who can barely speak anymore, can't tell her. She can only endure the spitballs, thrown food, whispers, and turned backs--and the whispered taunts of a handsome senior who terrifies her. Even her former best friend Rachel, eager to be popular, has abandoned her completely without ever trying to learn why Melinda made that call. And Melinda's parents seem to regard everything she doesn in this year as deliberately generated disappointments.

The story is that of Melinda finding her way back to herself over the year, from sliding downhill into total apathy to fighting her way to her voice and to justice. Like nearly all of Laurie Halse Anderson's work, this is a story about justice. It's also a story about voice and its power, about how voices speaking out are our most positive weapon. This book, its growing power since its publication, and the number of lives it has influenced, is living proof of the power of one writer's voice to set her readers free and to feed their idealism so it will never burn out.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 29,976 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.