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Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda Sordino begins her freshman year at Merryweather High School friendless. From the beginning it is obvious that Melinda is having not only social anxiety, but also body image problems “I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude.” She is unable to speak of the events that happened that summer night at the party. She cannot tell anyone why she called the police, not even her former best friend. As the days and months progress, Melinda tells how she is bullied by the entire student body and begins to completely shut down. She will not speak to anyone, her grades plummet, and she skips out on her classes to find a hiding place in a janitor’s closet. She also displays physical reactions to her depression; she constantly bites on her lips until the bleed and cannot stand to look at her reflection in the mirror. Readers will be able to empathize with Melinda through her narrative as they learn of the experience that marked her life and shame she feels after the night of the party where she was raped.  Melinda finally finds the courage and terms to come to terms with her assault and speak up against her rapist.  Adolescent readers learn of the importance of speaking about traumatic events and what can happen when someone decides to keep the hurt all to themselves.


Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. NY: Penguin