Thursday, January 26, 2017


Title: Speak

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

First Published: October 22nd 1999

Series: Stand Alone

Genre: YA Fiction, Contemporary

Available As: Hardcover, paperback, ebook

Pages: 208

My Copy: Physical copy 

My Overall Rating: 9/10

Goodreads Summary
"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 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 Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable 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.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

This was such a powerful book and I loved every moment of it. I would recommend it to everyone to read. 

I've only read another book by Laurie Halse Anderson - Wintergirls - and I enjoyed that one as well, but Speak was even better. Speak deals with touchy and sensitive topics like rape and depression. It's the first book I've read of this genre (I'm reading a lot of new books in new genres these days!) and I think it's a great introduction into these topics that people normally pretend don't exist. I think this book was written very well, because I could clearly tell Melinda was struggling but her cynical/sarcastic attitude towards life was the only humorous bit to the book. Otherwise, the tone of the book was very oppressive and heavy, making you hope that something good will happen to Melinda and Andy will get what he really deserves.

Melinda is a very prominent character, and by this I mean that she isn't as flat and 2D as other YA Contemporary characters. For me, I usually read about the protagonist of such books and forget about them pretty quickly. But Melinda? Her character development is really strong - she starts off scared and sullen, but gains confidence slowly over the pages from her art and slight kindness from Ivy. Although being traumatised, she finds something to cling on to for the year (the tree) and slowly gains confidence in herself. I think the turning point is when she finds out she's not alone in hating Andy. The responses she gets on the bathroom stall powers her courage alongside her art, and in the end she finds her voice and speaks out.

I would say that Speak ended on a slightly more positive note, because *spoiler alert* it ends with Melinda finally opening up about the rape with her teacher, Mr Freeman. *spoiler over* I guess that it is one of the more positive endings for a rape victim - one who finds their own voice and courage to finally speak out. Others aren't so lucky. I guess Melinda is one of the more lucky ones, since she isn't shamed or ignored. People do take her seriously, unlike in another book I read dealing with the same genre: Asking For It

I also really liked the style that Speak was written in. It's told in Melinda's POV, obviously, but I really liked how there was practically no speech in it, and when there was a bare minimum, it was written in script form. Melinda also nicknames everyone, except for the people she cares about - so she doesn't called Ivy names, but she makes up some for Rachel/Rachelle and all her teachers, except Mr Freeman. The nicknames make it difficult to tell who is who at first, especially how Melinda jumps between many different nicknames for her rapist, but in the end, it gets clearer.

This book was an emotional ride, but I devoured the book nonetheless. After reading this one, I have the urge to buy all of Laurie Halse Anderson's other books and read them as well :) I think she's a really good author who writes about very sensitive topics that we should all be more exposed to without sugar-coating the subject. 

My Chosen Quote
“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.”


  1. This book has been recommended to me by multiple librarians and I've seen it on so many websites and blogs; I can't believe I haven't read it yet! I'm really glad that you thought it did a good job with tackling that topic of rape. There's definitely a need to keep the conversation going. Lovely review, Cloe!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Yes, I think everyone should read this book! It really does open your mind towards these subjects. I hope you get round to it sometime!

  2. I've seen this book everywhere, but never picked it up because it sounds so dark and gritty. I mean, I love reading books that talk about important topics, but they can give me anxiety too... Someday, I will read it though! Glad you loved it Cloe!

    Also, I tagged you for the book courtship tag, I hope you'll check it out when you have the time :)


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