Speak (Review and discussion)


How did I get it?:
I bought it!


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.


This could turn into a very long section so I’m going to split it up into my actual review and then an issue that has been brought to my attention by a fellow blogger. It’s a contentious issue, so please feel free to leave your thoughts too if you feel inclined.


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. She was raped 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 and its about rape. Certainly not an easy read. Laurie Halse Anderson has done an amazing job with Speak. It’s considered and extraordinary.

Extra bits

I heard from Amanda from My Nose Stuck In A Book about an article she came across about Speak. Here is the said article. Dr. Richard Swier believes Speak is “child pornography” and that it promotes sex and violence encouraging child abuse.

I don’t want to say too much about the subject because Amanda and Tracy (linked later) have said all that I would want to say. I will say that I personally believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but in my opinion, I think calling Speak “child pornography” is completely wrong. Like Amanda, I think Dr Richard Swier has missed the point of Speak. It is an incredibly difficult subject to read and it is banned in some schools across America but I think it has educational significance. If it’s used and taught sensitively, it could evoke very important discussions and help a hell of a lot of young people.

The talented author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson responded to these claims by saying:
“SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and family dysfunction. It teaches children that when bad things happen, they need to speak up, even when it’s hard. It has given hope to tens of thousands of readers since 1999. It is a standard in curriculum across the country.”

You can read Laurie’s fabulous response HERE

Here is another blogger’s opinion on the subject- Tracy at Bray and Books

What do you think? Is there place for a book like Speak? Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

4 thoughts on “Speak (Review and discussion)

  1. Excellent review Chrissi! I am so glad that you liked Speak. Thank you so much for linking to my blog and to Tracy’s blog.

    P.S. I also highly recommend Catalyst, Wintergirls, and Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson. Each of those books also tackle some very difficult subjects but do so with sensitivity and in a way that can teach teens and adults alike.

    • Thanks Amanda! 🙂 You’re very welcome. I thought both blogs were brilliant. I didn’t need to add much to my discussion. I have just read Wintergirls but I’ll definitely check out her other books. She’s incredible! 😀

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