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Speak [Hardcover]

L Anderson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (761 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1999
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.

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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: Andy Evans. He's a senior at Melinda's high school, and Melinda hasn't been able to speak clearly since he raped her at the senior party last August.

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 and loudly confronts her rapist, 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

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.

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It is my first morning of high school. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars speak July 19 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I recommend Speak for ages 13 and up, especially, if you are going into high school. It talks about first experiences in high school, the struggles with her classes and teachers, and includes her experiences on the bus. "The bus picks up students in groups of four or five. As they walk down the aisle, people who were in my middle-school lab partners or gym buddies glare at me. I close my eyes. This is what I've been dreading. As we leave the last stop, I am the only person sitting alone." She met a new girl named Heather. "Another wounded zebra turns and smiles at me. She's packing at least five grand worth of orthodontia, but has great shoes. 'I'm Heather from Ohio', she says. 'I'm new here. Are you?' I don't answer. The lights dim and the indoctrination begins." This book gave me a heads up on what high school will be and some of the experience that an ordinary student would go through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to SPEAK July 8 2004
Format:Paperback
At first I wasn't even sure what this book by author Laurie Halse Anderson was about but when I saw it at a bookstore one day I decided to give it a try as I'd heard nothing but good things about it from both critics and casual readers. I don't read much YA books anymore but I really wish I could have discovered this back when I was in High School still. Then maybe I would have felt less alone for I can relate to the protagonist in many ways. I was somewhat of an outcast myself and while I didn't have to live with the secret Melinda Sordino does in this story I started my freshman year in a strange new town not knowing a single soul, which can be a very scary thing for school is no walk in the park, and just getting by can sometimes be tougher than getting good grades...
"Speak" briefly follows Melinda's first year of High School which is sometimes humorous and sometimes dark. She's mostly a mute, talking as little as possible, and has little to no friends as the year progresses. The now popular Nicole, who had been her best friend since they were kids, has turned her back on Melinda, as has everyone else, it seems, for she'd ruined their end-of-the-summer party by calling the cops on them. But what they don't know is why she did it and the secret she's had to harbor within herself since that horrible night. So to sum this up, "Speak" is pretty much a journey through Melinda's struggles to SPEAK and to let the truth be known before it eats her up inside; preventing her from moving on and living the rest of her life.
I usually read fantasy and horror novels but I found this to be very engrossing, and I believe everyone who reads this young girl's "fictional" experiences can relate to it in one way or another.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Speak is Captivatingly Humorous June 25 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Speak is a truly remarkable novel. I had to read it for school, and, oblivious to the fact that it is pure genius, didn't want to at first. However, after reading 18 pages worth on the way home from the bookstore, I couldn't put it down. It kept me on my toes. I read it the next day during breakfast- even while brushing my teeth! (Don't ask me how, but I did- honest.) I applaud its combination of wit and seriousness. Although it's about a serious issue (rape), Melinda's sarcasm adds a touch of needed humor. Speak is about Melinda, a girl who was raped at 13 at a senior party last August. She called the cops, and now no one at Merryweather High will speak to her- all except for David, her lab partner, and Heather, an exchange student from Ohio. Melinda is an outcast, choosing not to speak at all- not even to her parents. She tells no one of last summer's incident, and has a few "run-ins" with the Beast himself. This book has believable characters and an enjoyable plot. I highly recommend Speak to anyone looking for a good read. I would most definately read this book again. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars because, well, it's awesome! Outstanding job, Laurie Anderson! I can't wait to read more of your literary masterpieces!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book EVER May 30 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Speak is the Best Book you could ever read. In speak the main character is Melinda and everyone hates her. She crashed an end of summer party by calling the cops, but no one knows why she called them. Also she is having inner problems with herself on what to do and what not to do and other stuff like that. The whole high school is against her which makes it even harder to get through freshman year.

I rate this book a 5 because it was really good. The way it was written on the page made it more fun to read by having paragraph breaks in a different kind of way. Also the whole plot of the story was cool. It was about something that I've never read before. The author puts you into the character fully and it's like you've known Melinda all her life.

A scene that was really heartbreaking was when a girl from Ohio, Heather, moves her and desides to be Melinda's friend. Then halfway through the year, Heather gives up on Melinda because "she was such a party-pooper". So now Melinda has no friends. Another scene is when Melinda and her ex-bestfriend are in study hall passing notes about the party. Melinda spills everything out but doesn't say who rapes her. Finally she passes a note saying it was Rachels boyfriend who hurt her and Rachel won't believe her.

To wrap things up, this was a 5 star book (ranked by me) because it really draws you into the story. This story would be perfect for anyone from the age of 13 to whenever. It is a really good book.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for teens and while predictable for adults
Well written story on an important topic. Great for teens and while predictable for adults, it is still thought provoking.
Published 9 days ago by Ed
5.0 out of 5 stars It was good
I enjoyed the book throughly, plot was kind of slow but the end was very good. Anderson gives an interesting outlook on the thoughts of a teen going through a difficult time.
Published 3 months ago by Rp
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars
I read this book when i was fifteen. I still remember it being one of the greatest and most heart wrenching books out there. You will certainly cry. Good thing the ending is good!
Published 7 months ago by Kassidy
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite novel
This was probably my favourite book that I read all year during grade eight. I found that it helped me learn to research more about things like sexual abuse, drugs, and rape.
Published on April 26 2012 by Corinne Heart
4.0 out of 5 stars We must all Learn to Speak
Speak is about Melinda, a freshman/niner, who is raped at a party just before high school starts. Melinda calls 911 and ends the party, Melinda never confides to what she had... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2011 by sinthu
4.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Q: Book Addict
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Pages: 230
Source: Personal Copy
Category: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5... Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2010 by Mrs. Q: Book Addict
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Crescendo
Melinda Sordino, 14 starts her freshman year of high school under a cloud. Ostracized by her peers for calling the police during a summer party she attended, Melinda is forced to... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2010 by BeatleBangs1964
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Crescendo
Melinda Sordino, 14 starts her freshman year of high school under a cloud. Ostracized by her peers for calling the police during a summer party she attended, Melinda is forced to... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2010 by BeatleBangs1964
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This book was well written. I enjoyed Laurie Anderson's style of writing; it's quite simple to read and very straight forward which is my kind of book. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2010 by SDee
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
Melinda is an outcast at school because she called the cops at the big end-of-year party. No one understands, and Melinda can't explain, because she can't seem to get the words... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2009 by K. Edwards
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