Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on October 22, 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.
Another on my list of Banned/Challenged books. And another book that I apparently failed to be given as a reading requirement when I was younger. And yes, I’m starting to feel like a broken record at this point. But at least I’m getting around to reading them! Better late than never.
Speak is a moving and heartbreaking tale about a young girl who is keeping a dark secret from everyone including her family. This kept secret cost her all of her friends who all hate her for what she did, yet she still lacks the will to speak the truth.
’I am BunnyRabbit again, hiding in the open. I sit like I have an egg in my mouth. One move, one word, and the egg will shatter and blow up the world.’
Speak is the story of her healing, coping, and coming to terms with it all. It was a truly enthralling tale that kept the pages turning despite the sadness each page is steeped in. To me, this was such a vivid and accurate depiction of a teen girl suffering through high school and the blowback from her kept secret. I may not have been able to personally relate to what happened to her, but I think everyone could relate in some way to how she was treated in high school by her classmates and how she felt. I don’t look back on high school (or school in general) with fond memories, I wasn’t popular by any means, and I often found myself dreading going to school. Reading about how she felt, how she was treated, definitely struck a chord with me.
It was such a touching novel and I was so pleased that she finally found her resolution in the end and that she finally found the ability to speak.