Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Plot Summary:
Melinda Sordino doesn't speak. In fact, it has been several months since she has said a word to anyone. Last summer, there was an amazing party that anyone who was anyone was there. However, the party was busted up by the police when they received a phone call from an anonymous source. Unfortunately, when the "anonymous caller" decided to confide in her friends, not only did she lose all her friends, her reputation has been destroyed for crashing the best party on her block ever. Lonely, and an outcast, Melinda has thrown herself into her art where everything she felt was expressed in color, sketching, and paints.  Although she is constantly bombarded by the millions of thoughts that she refuses to express in words, and the one memory that torments her all the time, Melinda struggles to block out all of the pain and suffering. With each passing day, Melinda tries to start over, but something always manages to break her. However, when she sees him again, for the last time, everything that she worked so hard to forget resurfaces with a vengeance that will would scare the devil himself.

Critical Evaluation: 
Speak is well-written story that tackles the horrors and pain of a girl who is violated by a boy she didn't know, abandoned by the very people she calls "friends," and surviving the pressures of high school. Halse Anderson has created a story that is very real, and, at sometimes, unnerving, especially towards the end when the reader puts the whole picture together and Melinda's attacker confronts her for the last time. Readers will also sympathize with Melinda, especially when her friends don't believe her when she tells them what happens. Moreover, reading this story as an adult, it was hard to read because no one would comfort her or ask why she stopped talking. Halse Anderson has received praise, and criticism, for this thought provoking text that should be read by every teenage girl who may relate to Melinda or those looking for empowerment and healing.

Information about the Author:
Laurie Halse Anderson is another well-known YA author who has felt the praise and the condemnation from parents, educators, librarians, and administrators all over the country. Just like Judy Blume, Halse Anderson has written a variety of books that deals with some very serious issues in a way that allows readers to assess the affects of these actions and how we can deal with them and offer support for those who fall victim to these deeds. In second grade, Halse Anderson knew she was going to be a writer and eventually became a freelance reporter for newspapers and magazines. According to her biography on her website, she did shed many a tear as the rejection letters rolled in from various publishers until she joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators who gave her the feedback she needed and she wrote her debut Young Adult Novel Speak (para. 4).

Teen Contemporary Fiction

Reading/Interest Level:
9 & up

Books Similar to Speak
  •  ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • ALA Top-10 Best Book for Young Adults
  • ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award finalist
  • IRA Young Adult Choice
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Michael L. Printz Honor Book (American Library Association)
  • National Book Award Finalist
  • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
  • New York Times Bestseller List
  • SCBWI Golden Kite Award
  • YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults
  • Printz Honor Book
  • National Book Award Finalist

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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