by Pearl Carey

Speak Summary

Melinda is a ninth grade girl living with haunting memories of the summer before school started. Her parents don't pay much attention to her, and when they do, they mostly talk about how she needs to get over her 'depressed phase'. At school, Melinda has one fair-weather friend, Heather, and many ex-best friends that hate her because of the fact that she crashed the summer party by calling the police. But what no one really knows is that Andy Evans, a senior, raped her there. But when Rachel, Melinda's ex- best friend, starts dating him, Melinda has to decide whether to tell the truth or keep it to herself, like usual. In her free time, Melinda stays in the janitor's closet by herself, reliving that day. Her grades are slipping, and concern and worry is growing within her parents. The only thing that seems to relieve Melinda of some pain is making a tree (her year long project) in art class with advice from her unusual art teacher, Mr. Freeman. Throughout her year, Melinda grows to believe that nobody really wants to hear her out, and that it's safer to stay silent. In a last minute effort to keep her ex best friend, Rachel, from getting hurt by Andy Evans, Melinda tells her the truth. At first, Rachel doesn't believe her, but when Andy comes on too strong at prom, Rachel yells at him for what he did to Melinda and breaks up with him. Andy becomes angered by this and confronts Melinda in her closet where he tries to repeat what he did at the party. Melinda fights back when the lacrosse team opens the closet door, and the entailment of truth takes place. Melinda finds that her speaking up saved her life.

Who Melinda Really Is...

Melinda is a 15 year old girl who is depressed and lonely. She doesn't take time on her appearance, and she can most likely be found in baggy outfits and uncombed hair. She has acne and isn't one for wearing clean clothes. She doesn't have many friends, and is very quiet and shy. She keeps her head down and doesn't cause any problems, but she skips school often and doesn't feel the need to do her homework or keep up with her classes. The one subject she is interested in is art, and she puts effort into her tree project in Mr. Freeman's class. On the inside, all Melinda wants is a friend and for someone who wants to hear what she has to say. She desperately wants her parents to try to talk to her because she wants to feel loved, even though she doesn't realize it. But, on the outside, most people thinks she's just closed off. Melinda doesn't have goals in life, and mainly just tries to escape getting hurt in any way she can.
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What's the Problem?

Melinda is set on the idea of drifting through life and not making any connections to others in order to avoid the heart ache. Melinda has to make a choice about whether to speak up about what happened at the summer party, or to remain silent and depressed.

Melinda's Big Decision

Andy furiously confronts Melinda for telling Rachel about how he raped her at the party. Andy's social life has disappeared, and he has been labeled as a creep ever since Melinda made the decision to keep her ex-best friend safe. When Melinda tries to side-step him, Andy tries to assault her again and she ends up fighting for her life. After a brutal brawl, Melinda screams "NO!" at him after he tries to slam her head into the sink. The lacrosse team hears the ruckus and finds the two. Of course, the news gets out and Melinda has the support of the whole school behind her. The tables finally turned because of the truth coming out.
What is Depression?

The Theme

The theme if 'Speak' is that you are never too far gone to get help, and that the truth will always out itself. It's always important to talk to someone if you are feeling depressed, or if something bad happened to you. No matter what you might think, there's always someone out there to help. It's imperative that you don't hold your emotions in, because they might hurt you in the end. By the end of the book, Melinda learned that it is extremely important to get your emotions out and that you shouldn't let anger or loneliness build up inside you, because in the end the truth will always come out. Melinda learned that even though other people might not understand what you're going through, that doesn't mean that they care about you any less. It might just mean that they feel as if they don't know how to help you or they're scared to admit that what you're saying is true.

Textual Evidence

A very powerful part in the book is when Melinda cut her wrist purposely on a paperclip and her mom tried to use "tough love" in order to help her. It just shows that many people don't know how to deal with people that are hurting, even though its very important that they do. Another powerful part is when Andy confronts Melinda and she is strong enough to shout "no!" This shows a turning point when Melinda finally started to defend herself and speak up for herself. I also thought it was a strong moment when Melinda was battling with herself about weather or not she should hang out with David, her friend, but she wasn't ready to let someone in because she was still hurt and scared. I also liked when she was with Mr. Freeman in his car talking to him, and he told her that she was working hard and that he was proud of her and that she should be more confident in herself. I think this gave Melinda a chance to hear what she needed to hear for once. My favorite quote is by Mr. Freeman. "When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You'd be shocked at how many adults are dead inside- walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. it's the saddest thing i know." (pg. 122 Anderson). This showed Melinda a picture of who she shouldn't become.


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