Published April 2000 by Puffin|Pages: 208
Where I Got It: Own the paperback!
Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads Summary: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve read Speak, and so it seemed like a good time to re-visit it. Speak is just as amazing as I remembered it, and Melinda is so easy to relate to.
There is something about finding our voice and speaking up that rings true. There were points were I just wanted things to work out for Melinda, because I just wanted things to be okay for her. I love how sarcastic she is but I also love that we spend so much time in her head. You see that the events of the party took a toll on her and how much she withdrew from the world, speaking only when absolutely necessary.
Mr. Freeman was another pretty awesome character, and he stood out as a character. He’s a pretty awesome teacher, and I feel like being creative now! But awesome teachers are pretty awesome, and it’s always great when you have that one teacher who’s cool. Of course, there are teachers like “Mr. Neck,” “Hair Woman” and “Principal Principal” to round things out.
I didn’t pay too much attention to her relationship with her parents in previous reads, but now that I think about it…I’m not sure what to think about her relationship with her parents. They did seem pretty absent, and while I think part of it is Melinda withdrawing from the world, I have to wonder if maybe they were maybe a little bit absent before Speak starts, Because her grades go down drastically, she barely speaks and is withdrawn, and they don’t seem to put a lot of effort into why this has happened. I’m sure it happens more than we’d like to think, and we see them through Melinda’s eyes. And actually, her relationship with them is pretty believable, but I think I’m just irritated that they seemed to have no clue what was going on in her life.
Speak is such a powerful book, and definitely a must-read. I feel like Laurie Halse Anderson handled all of the different issues so well, and I feel like she got it right with Speak. She doesn’t sugar-coat things and pretend like things are perfect for teens, which is really nice. Things seem to end on a pretty good note, even with a pretty big moment that isn’t completely resolved. But I like that things are headed in a really good direction for Melinda, who finally seems ready to speak.
Before I forget: I totally love her art project for the year. Trees might seem random, but it seemed to fit with Melinda, and how much she changed over the course of the school year. And the cover might seem random at first, but I love that it fits with her art project.
Final Thoughts: I love Speak so much, and I think it’s one of those books that a lot of people can relate to in some way. I just can’t seem to come up with words that will properly express how much I love Speak and how amazing I think it is. Speak gets 5 stars.