Speak: Book summary and reviews of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak
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  • Published in USA  Oct 1999,
    240 pages.
    Age range: Young Adult


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Book Summary

Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning, highly acclaimed, and controversial novel about a teenager who chooses not to speak rather than to give voice to what really happened to her.

"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 that 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 this powerful novel, an utterly believeable 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn, but it is its raw and unvarnished look at the dynamics of the high school experience that makes this a novel that will be hard for readers to forget." - Kirkus Reviews

"An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last. " - Horn Book

"Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy." - Publisher's Weekly

"A story told with acute insight, acid wit, and affecting prose. " - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by briteny
Speak
In my opinion, this novel was exceptional. I recommend it to any person who enjoys mystery/fiction/real life stories. I rate this book with three stars. The reason is because the chapters get a little boring after a while. But as soon as you think it can’t get better something unexpected happens and it reels you back in to its taunting pages.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Rachel D.
Book Review for 'Speak' by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read Speak as part of a school literature circle book and I enjoyed it. I would recommend this book to the age group of 12-16, because the theme, (to my surprise) is a little bit more mature, yet it's at an easier reading level.
The book is about a girl, Melinda, who stops speaking at school. At first, it's a big mystery why Melinda is mute, but then as the story goes on the mystery unravels and you understand. In Speak there is a very strong theme and lesson that in taught, that you always need to speak up and be heard.
I thought Speak was a good book throughout the beginning and middle, but I felt that Laurie Halse Anderson rushed the end and the explanations towards the end of the book. I think she should have stretched out the end and made it more surprising for the reader.
Laurie Halse Anderson writes through the voice of Melinda, and Melinda's opinions. This writing technique turned out to be funny and enjoyable, because Melinda's insights and opinions were really funny and kept you wondering what Melinda was going to think next.
So, if you're up for a funny and meaningful book about the difficult times of being a teenager, pick up Speak. What are you waiting for?

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Author Information

Laurie Halse Anderson Author Biography

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Anderson was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature…". A wife and mother of four, Anderson lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes.

Link to Laurie Halse Anderson's Website

Name Pronunciation
Laurie Halse Anderson: Halse rhymes with waltz

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