Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary

Before the Summer of Freshman year, Melinda Sordino meets Andy Evans at a party. Andy rapes her and she calls 911. The police came and broke up the party, and everyone had blamed Melinda. She started high school at Merryweather High School and is an outcast. Melinda is shunned by her peers and her old friends left her in the dust. Melinda will not tell why she called the police. Melinda is unable to speak her thoughts and feelings of what happened that night and sinks into depression. “I just want to sleep. The whole point of talking about it, of silencing the memory, is to make it go away. I’ll need brain surgery to cut it out of my head,” (page 81, Speak) Melinda is befriended by Heather, a new girl, only to ditch her for "the Martha’s", who are the popular girls at Merryweather High. As Melinda’s depression deepens, she slowly starts skipping classes, being distant with her parents, and her silence is beginning to give her more attention. She nearly stops speaking and uses art from Mr. Freeman's class to express what she is feeling. Drawing, painting, and creating trees for her freshman year in art class, has helped Melinda acknowledge what happened and helped her face her problems. Near the end of the novel, Melinda slowly starts befriending her lab partner, who helps her with her problems and encourages her to speak. Rachel, Melinda’s ex-best friend, dumped her boyfriend Andy the night of prom after Melinda confessed to her what happened the night of the party. Andy realized that only Melinda could have been the one to tell Rachel what had happened, Andy attacks Melinda in her only safe place at school, AKA the janitor’s closet. A few cheerleaders found out, and soon word got around. Melinda was no longer treated as an outcast and the truth finally sets her free.

Character Analysis

Melinda Sordino is the main character in Speak. She used to be a regular teen until that night at the Senior party. Melinda sunk into a deep dark depression and became very negative, yet very selfish. As more people shut her out, she shuts out more of her life, not giving attention to anyone or anything other than herself. She's unfocused and procrastinates a lot in school, and doesn't try as hard as she should in certain things.

Conflict/Resolution

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson is a novel that is charactar vs. society. "The kids behind me laugh so loud I know they're laughing about me," (page 4, Speak) is an example.

Theme

"When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time." (Speak, page 122) This quote really shows the theme in this book. The theme is always speak up. If you keep things inside for too long, it could make you sad and depressed. If you don't express feelings and thoughts, people will never know whats going on, what you are thinking, or how you are feeling. In Melinda's case; if she were to speak up about being raped, maybe she wouldn't be blamed for ruining the party, she would have friends still, and people wouldn't ignore her. Toward the end of Speak, she finally spoke up and people realized what had happened that night. Melinda ruined her whole freshman year by not speaking up. Expressing yourself and speaking up for yourself will get you a lot further than keeping everything inside.

Textual Evidence

“I have survived. I am here. Confused, screwed up, but here. So, how can I find my way? Is there a chain saw of the soul, an ax I can take to my memories or fears?” (Speak, page 188) These words jumped off the page for me and really showed importance. I think this quote shows that no matter how screwed up you feel and how confused you are, all that matters is that you are here.

Book Review

I would rate the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson a 5 out of 5 rating. I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it sent a good message and theme.