Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson
Square Fish
Published May 10, 2011 (Orig. published 1999)

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At a high school with an ever-changing mascot, Melinda begins her year friendless and alone. She’s the pariah who called police at a summer party. The one where the awful thing happened. Through a caring teacher and a challenging art project, Melinda struggles to piece herself back together. But when the familiar face of that boy materializes out of the halls of her new school, she spirals into silence and isolation. As the boy, Andy, draws closer to Melinda’s former best friend Rachel, Melinda tries to reach out, to warn her. Rumors swirl that he’s hurt other girls, the same way he hurt Melinda.

The way he raped Melinda.

Notes in a bathroom stall and the tenuous friendship of another girl draw Melinda back from the edge until Andy comes after Melinda again. This time, she fights back. Others hear her and rally to her aid.

Speak is undoubtedly one of the most powerful novels of its time. Anderson’s gritty yet hopeful tale paves the way for dialogue about one of the most difficult and sensitive topics. She describes not only the pain of the victim, but depicts the rallying of her community and offers hope for healing. While there are a couple of instances of strong language, this is almost entirely a clean book with a very hopeful and inspiring ending.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild. The word b***h appears a few times.

Sexual Content – TRIGGER WARNING
Melinda was raped at a party. The description is brief.

Spiritual Content

Melinda faces her rapist again, and fights back. Brief scene, few graphic details.

Drug Content
Teenagers, including Melinda consume alcohol at a summer party. The consequences are heavy, and Melinda herself calls the police.


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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