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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 17 July 2013
I found this book incredibly intense and moving. It's not an easy read. I knew something bad had happened to Melinda, but wasn't sure what until around the middle, when I began to suspect what had happened to her. I'm so glad Laurie Halse Anderson didn't go into too much detail about the situation, especially because of the age range this book is directed at. There are so many issues that are explored in this book including pain, friendship, suffering but on a positive note it is also a story that shows growth and strength.

Melinda is the main character and the narrator of the story. Something had happened to her when she was 13 and begins high school as an outcast as she can't move beyond what tragically happened to her. She phoned the police at the party she was at, leaving her shunned by her peers. Melinda barely speaks leading her peers to think she's weird, and her parents and teachers wondering what is wrong with her. Is she just a difficult teenager or is there something much more than Melinda lets on. When the boy who raped her begins to date her ex best friend Melinda can't just stand back and let the same thing happen.

I thought despite the tough subject matter this book at times was funny. I think with an intense read like this, some light relief is much needed. I also liked Melinda as a narrator. The story coming from a teenage perspective makes it much easier for teenagers to relate to. Obviously, it's not always light and humorous. There's a section where Melinda considers suicide. Laurie Halse Anderson has done an amazing job with Speak. It's considered and extraordinary.
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on 3 April 2011
The moment Melinda Sordino starts her first day at Merryweather High, she knows she is an outcast.
The story starts a few months after something traumatic happened to Melinda. But what happened to her is not revealed until later on as the story slowly unfolds.
All we know at first is that she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops and now her old friends won't talk to her and people she doesn't know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can't get out the words to explain. Her parents are too wrapped up in themselves to notice that something is wrong and her only so-called friend, Heather, is just with her until she finds someone cool to hang out with.
So Melinda retreats into her head and becomes silent on the outside. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either - there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won't go away...

What makes this novel unique is the inner dialogue of Melinda Sordino. It has been written in the first person narrative from her point of view. Melinda has a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humour and her thoughts really made me laugh. She is very opinionated and outspoken but she keeps these thoughts to herself and utters not one word out loud. She is also suffering inside and being tortured by a memory that she desperately wants to forget.

This book is very special to me. This is the only book that I have found that relates to me in every was possible. In a way I feel as if it has been written for me!

Melinda Sordino begins to suffer from Selective Mutism after a traumatic experience. This is a condition that means a person cannot talk in most social situations and to almost everyone except a handful of people. Selective Mutism is basically a fear of talking.
I have suffered from Selective Mutism for as long as I can remember and I found that I could totally relate to Melinda. I know what it is like to be unable to talk. I too have an opinionated, outspoken inner dialogue that no one but myself ever hears!
I know what it is like to have no friends, to be isolated and alone and completely misunderstood. Laurie Halse Anderson has really done a fantastically amazing job of describing what this is like. I tip my hat to her!

Laurie has also magnificently taken on the extremely upsetting subject of rape and the subsequent consequences and affects of such as traumatic experience. I too have had a very bad experience and so I could relate to Melinda. I totally understood how she was feeling and what it is like to be haunted by a memory that you wish would disappear.

SPEAK is a phenomenal book. Riveting and compassionately written, it is emotional and inspirational. It is ultimately as story of social acceptance and self acceptance with very clear messages to get across to the reader.
Although it has been written for the young adult market I personally think that it is a book adults would enjoy as well.
It is cleverly written and without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read.

Thank you Laurie. Words cannot describe how much this book means to me.
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on 26 June 2017
One of my favourite books.
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on 20 June 2001
I started reading this book on the way to work and I got so into it, I just wanted to "disappear" and continue reading all day. It is one of the best books I've read this year, and one of the best so far in my life I think. I am truly impressed by the way Laurie Halse Andersen mixes irony, humour, insights and the deepest pain. Anybody who's gone through school will recognise _something_ in it, even though you may not have been in Melinda's shoes, and anybody's who's still in school will find comfort in it. It's one of those books you like so much that you don't how to describe it because whatever you say, you feel it's not enough. It was a couple of weeks since I finished it, but it's still on my mind. And I've convinced a couple of my friends to read it as well, and they loved it too!
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Phew, this was a really hard read for me. So emotional on a multitude of levels, taking into account the subject matter I found this particular scenario totally scary as I have 3 daughters and the oldest is only a few years younger than Melinda in this book.

Written in first person narrative from Melinda's point of view. The reader is dropped into the middle of something but is not made aware of exactly what has happened until later in the story. From the beginning we establish that Melinda is isolated due to an event that has occurred within the last few months.

I have to say I did not find Melinda particularly like-able at the beginning, before the story unfolded, due to her complete lack of enthusiasm for anything, I found her hard to relate to, which I guess is part of the point. The events leading up to this point and her current emotional state are revealed slowly..

The omnipresent cliques are portrayed in unnerving accuracy. These stereotypes dominate events throughout life not just in school. We are shown through the narrative that people will always believe what they want to, not necessarily the truth. There are always two sides to a story although it is rarely acknowledged. People always side with the popular clique and don't bother asking questions that would upset the status quo.

Plot teasers are placed throughout the narrative making the reader imagine the worst case scenario. I found the reference to book banning totally ironic in light of recent events.

The imagery was very powerful making the tension palpable from between the lines. The narrative contained terrific use of metaphor to convey the isolation and desolation that Melinda felt.

I was left speechless at the relationship that Melinda had with her parents. I just could not relate to that at all. Leaving her to fend for herself most of the time, so caught up in their own lives/work to fully understand their own child. This part was very difficult for me and made me self-analyze my relationship with my children. I could not understand how they did not know something was the matter and deal with it. Especially when it came to the falling grades and lack of enthusiasm, I would like to think I would pick up that there was a deeper problem if it was one of my children. It made me feel as if they did not really care for her at all.

When Melinda eventually admits the true problem, she is shunned at first. Adding to her feeling of anguish. It is only following another frightening event that the truth is revealed; lifting the burden from Melinda. I would have liked to have seen how the truth was dealt with; the reactions of her family and friends etc.

The message behind this story is quite simple: SPEAK out. If nothing is ever said about being bullying and worse then how are we as a population supposed to stop it. You have to think, would you want other people to suffer the same as you have. SPEAK!!!!!!
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on 7 April 2003
I highly recommend this novel. After glancing at its first few pages, I found myself competing with my youngest sister of reading it who was in Lower School. As a teenager, portraying a teen's mind is a difficult feat. It has never been told in a form that closely relates to today's teenagers like this one. Anderson has revealed it all through Melinda, a quiet and witty character who has become more of a herione in her own story. An outcast, 'artistic' and terribly rejected freshmen girl attending a highschool of students that detest the sight of her is a bitter, yet perfect, setting for this one girl's true-to-life story. Her untalkative, solitary, yet charming character will glue the readers' eyes to every page. What makes this novel unique is that it stabs the reader in the heart: you become Melinda and react similarly to situations inside the novel while you read her world. It allows readers to experience what it feels like to be that person, a person who's ruined reputation was made by her one (desperate) phone call. You will feel pity for Melinda, learn and grow to actually cheer on her personal or social successes, and smile contently whenever she cleverly uses imagery when comparing something to another ie. a greek-god teenager, her volcanic-expolding parents at the dinner table. I tell you, this novel is the bomb of all (short) teenager novels. It will make you inseparable from reading it. A clever piece of work that must be owned by any teenager or adult. It's that good.
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on 4 June 2013
After something happens to Melinda her life is never the same. She has to struggle with a difficult secret without any friends and is ever more alienated from her family and those at school. This shows how difficult teenage life can be and even more so with a dangerous secret. A great protrayal of the bitter experience of a young girl.
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Speak is a great Young Adult novel that follows a young girl, Melinda as she is trying to cope in school after a traumatic and horrible event that takes place at a summer party. As she starts high school she has no friends as they have all deserted her. Its a very emotional journey for her and really gives the readers alot of think about.

Melinda is very likable and even though her story is very dark there is still a few funny parts that just balances out the darkness and depression. I really liked Melinda from the start and even though I couldn't even imagine what she is going through I felt that Laurie is did a wonderful job with getting into Melinda's head. I liked how we get glimpses from Melinda's summer where it all happened. I had a lump in my throat when Melinda finally reveals and actually tells someone what happened to her.

I only have one negative about it and that was her friends. Well her ex-friends. Honestly if I was at a party and one of my friend phoned that police. I would automatically think they had to have reason and I wouldn't stop being friends with them. I just found this part a bit unrealistic.

Overall though. Speak is a fast read that is dark and thought provoking yet has its funny moments. I read this after I read Twisted not knowing the twisted was the follow up novel. However, the stories have nothing do with each other and can be read as stand alone novels.
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on 13 April 2011
The book is written in a monologue from Melinda Sordino's perspective, she is a freshman (13/14 years old) and it begins as she starts high school. The story is told mostly in short paragraphs, snippets of her life that read as though we too are trapped, voiceless, inside her head. This makes it particularly accessible to less confident readers, and for those who read a bit at a time. At first I found it hard to like or identify with Melinda, but having reflected on the story for a few days now I think that was the point. You get a good way through the book before you know why her life changed and what happened to her. This story hits on so many emotional levels - having nobody to talk to, being ostracised in school and bullied for something that wasn't her fault, and being constantly afraid... it's a visceral experience.

I read this immediately after finishing Just Listen by Sarah Dessen which was a gentler exploration of the themes explored in Speak. Both are excellent stories and deal with assault, each in a different way.

I recommend this book to teenage readers, as the central issues covered should not be shied away from and these things do happen. Reading about someone else's experience is surely educational.
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on 27 September 2001
Melinda hates high school already. Her old friends won't speak to her because she ruined a dumb high school party by calling the cops. But only Melinda knows why. And meanwhile, she's not saying. And her life is cruddy. Her parents. Well. Who in their right mind would speak to them? And her new so called friend is just with her until she finds someone cool to hang out with. Melinda knows she [feels like rubbish]. But can she pull herself out of it and speak out about the truth? This book shows you just how vile school can be. And even though it's set in the states, the issues of friendship and sex it tackles are really well written. It's funny, it's brave. It's one for the girls, but it's not a girly book. It's honest. As a school librarian, i've passed this to a couple of keen reading girls, and they both read it it one night, coming back to say how they loved it. Excellent, and recommended for any school library.
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