- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Speak (July 31, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014131088X
- ISBN-13: 978-0141310886
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2,011 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Speak Paperback – July 31, 2000
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Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...
Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. At school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine's pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police at a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers do not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice. Through the first-person narration, the author makes Melinda's pain palpable: "I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special." Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which her attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The beauty of this novel is that it could have survived alone without the much more sinister story behind it. But, that said, it also served as a very sad and moving voice for rape victims, particularly the vast amounts who feel at fault or scared or embarrassed by what happened. It was a quick, easy teen read but it's also the kind that plays on your mind repeatedly after finishing it.
I hope my review has been helpful to you. It encourages me to continue writing and updating my reviews. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, I will be more than happy to answer if I can be of help.
You don't find out exactly what happens until over halfway into the book, but you can tell something went really wrong somewhere along the way. Why'd she call the cops to a party? Why do all her friends hate her? Why won't she say?
To have something so horrific happen at such a crucial part in your life.... Think about it. You're thirteen, you're at a party, IT attacks you. You're hurt, drunk, confused, and so young -- how would you react? Honestly, I don't even want to think about it.
And that's why I'm grateful for Speak. It makes you. It shows you what goes on in someone's head when IT happens.
This is something I hear about the book a lot: Melinda not talking is frustrating. I suppose whether or not you enjoy the book depends on if you are frustrated for the right reasons or the wrong ones. It frustrated me because I cared about her. Because her silence was hurting her so much -- both emotionally and physically. Her lips ... that part of the book has always stuck with me. Her cracked, bloody, slightly gross lips. They're a wonderful way to represent how her silence is hurting her.
If you don't understand why she can't speak up -- how hard that is for someone who has been through what she has -- or care about Melinda, then the silence will probably kill you. I guess I shouldn't call this the wrong reason. It's an opinion and all have a right to their opinions. But it's hard for me to understand how someone can think like this. Really. She was thirteen. It was that crazy summer between junior high and high school.
That exciting, huge point if life when you think you're done being a kid. When you're going to go to a new school -- weren't you nervous/excited/sososcared/sosohopeful/sosoeverything about that? Will you make new friends? Will you be friends with your old ones? Will you be popular? A loser? A social leaper? Will you get a boyfriend? Will you get your heart broken? Wtf will happen!?
Add to that what Melinda had to go through -- with being blamed and hated and pushed down at your lowest point.
My favorite part of this edition is the poem Laurie added. It was assembled from emails she got from people who read the book. It's so powerful -- to hear how much victims teens really relate to Melinda and her journey. Teens that have gone through the same thing or so much worse. Even adults.
There is so much meaning behind everything in this book. It's so brilliant that way. When you start to read it, you can tell the style is different than the norm and it'll be a literary book. But it's not one of those unreadable literary books. A normal person could easily enjoy it. This book is very entertaining.
Since Mellie doesn't talk, the entire book is pretty internal. What nightmares are going on in her head, what she's feeling, what she refuses to think/feel about.
Melinda's character arch is completed. Everything is so satisfying in the end. Laurie's endings are very similar to Courtney Summer's. When the book is done, it's done. It's such a powerful ending.
The final line is beyond perfect.
Another perk of the special edition
Laurie talks about writing a sequel to Speak. Maybe she could call it Spoke. She says she's open to the option, she's just waiting for Melinda to speak to her again. You get glimpses at Melinda in her other books, but ... even though a lot of things are left up in the air I like the way it ended. I don't want to mess with it. Melinda lives happily ever after in my head. Very happy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hot Toasty Rag, May 8, 2017
I saw the movie Speak, and because of Kristen Stewart's incredible performance, I bought the book.Read more