20 Years of Speak: Background information when reading Shout

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Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson X
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
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  • Published:
    Mar 2019, 304 pages

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Adrienne Pisch
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20 Years of Speak

This article relates to Shout

SpeakReleased in 1999, Speak was Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel and also her most controversial. Melinda Sordino, the protagonist, is raped the summer before her freshman year of high school at a house party. She calls the police but is unable to verbalize what happened, leaving the scene before they arrive. The police bust the house party, and Melinda is hated by all her classmates. She almost completely stops speaking but begins to heal through a project for her art class.

The novel was not expected to succeed. Halse Anderson says that her editor tried to manage her expectations as it released – maybe she would sell 3,000 copies in three years, and then the novel would go out of print. But twenty years later, it has sold millions of copies and been printed in 27 languages. Brave and honest, Speak began conversations about rape that had rarely occurred in public forums, and now the it is widely taught in classrooms, opening the door for conversations about sex and consent at...

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