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Speak Hardcover – Oct 22 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 762 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (Oct. 22 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374371520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374371524
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 762 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #398,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson is a riveting, compassionate book about a teenage outcast.

Melinda Sordino destroyed her reputation before even setting foot in the dangerous halls of Merryweather High School. By calling the police at an end-of-summer bash, she is now officially considered a loser. With her old friends gone, Melinda no longer speaks to anyone; even her new "best friend," Heather.

This novel on self-discovery, empathy, and social acceptance is simply breathtaking.

Without a doubt, SPEAK is a phenomenal book. It is emotional, inspirational, gripping, and surprisingly funny. It is told from Melinda's poignant, outspoken point of view. Anderson perfectly depicts the cliques, heartbreaks, and reality of high school. This book will grip you from cover to cover.

SPEAK captured my heart with it's sarcastic sense of humor and perfect portrayal of high school. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh, a tear, or anything in between.

Reviewed by: Tara - The Class
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By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Sept. 2 2010
Format: Paperback
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 fend for herself to a large extent.

Melinda's parents don't really communicate with her. Melinda's behavior hollers trauma - the extended silence and change in eating patterns as well as her poor grades are all red flags. One can cheer Melinda's logical refusal to answer rhetorical questions. It does make one wonder what the point of rhetorical questions are since the one asking them usually doesn't want an answer. It irked me that Melinda's parents would ask such foolish questions which in turn precluded any chance at discourse. It bothered me that Melinda said they were "heartbroken" once Melinda learned "the Santa lie," as she rightfully called it. It was sad that Santa was really more for them. (In "Twisted," the parents cling to Santa long after the kids wisely ditched him once they learned the truth. Santa is ostensibly for the kids, but really for the adults involved in the charade).

Melinda has also become quasi-mute. Only one girl attempts to befriend her. Heather, a transfer student is the only person who attempts to befriend Melinda. It turns out Heather has an agenda - she wants to be accepted by a clique called the Marthas (after Martha Stewart) who are held in high regard by teachers and administrators alike. The Marthas are known for doing home ec projects for the community and creating party motifs for school functions. Heather feels Melinda's artistic skills will give her a leg up with the Martha crowd.

There are notes of humor that offset the grim and serious subjects covered in this book.
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Format: Paperback
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Pages: 230
Source: Personal Copy
Category: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5


Melinda Sordino is a typical high school teenager. She's entered the 9th grade, and she harbors a huge secret. One that is tearing her apart. Her first summer high school party ended with Melinda calling the police. Melinda starts her first year as an outcast. She can't speak to her friends, they're not talking to her, they consider her a snitch and teaser her every chance she gets. She can't speak to her parents, they're never home and Melinda is left alone, money left on the table to order food. Melinda has no one to turn to, she trusts no one. Melinda said nothing when students threw food at her, she said nothing when her best friend turned on her and told her she 'hated' her, she said nothing when she was abandoned by all. While everyone else seems to go on with their lives, Melinda is struck. She's stuck with her secret, she is stuck in her life. Melinda said nothing...while she was breaking inside.

Overall Impression:

I first heard about this book during 'Banned Books' week. I thought I really should read this one for myself, and then form an opinion on it. Honestly, this is a must read. High School for many teenagers is a bully's playground. In this novel, we really see the hurt Melinda is facing. While she wants to say something, she feels that she has no one to say it to. She is alone is a world that is out to get her. I loved how the novel really gets into Melinda's mind. The reader really sees the complex emotions she is dealing with. This is a very unique coming-of-age story. One that i'm sure will help teenagers in similar situations.
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Format: Paperback
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 out: "It is getting harder to talk. My throat is always sore, my lips raw. When I wake up in the morning, my jaws are clenched so tight I have a headache."

Worse, she keeps running into IT at school. She hates him, wants to kill him, but just ends up running away instead. Now Rachel is dating IT, and Melinda is worried. Will she be able to speak in order to protect her former best friend?

"Speak" was published over 10 years ago, but it continues to be extremely popular with teens, due to its genuine language and honest treatment of rape. This book is also used in many school programs.

This book is often challenged or banned based on its content. Although Anderson's treatment of the subject of rape is honest and authentic, it is not graphic.

"Speak" is compelling and powerful - a must-read.
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