Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson starts out on the first day of Melinda’s freshman year. She is a social outcast, shy, and isn’t very pretty. Because Mel calls the cops while she is at a party before school starts, everyone in the school is way mad including her “best friends”. Mel also has a difficult home life because her parents fight frequently and have stopped talking almost at all. When the new girl, Heather, befriends her, Mel finally thinks she is needed by someone. She kind of starts making friends with her biology lab partner, David Petrakis, and things are looking up until she sees the man that ruined her life is starting to date her ex-bestfriend Rachel.
Speak keeps you interested enough to keep reading, even if you’ve read it before. Melinda is a fascinating character and her internal struggle is very potent for readers. Speak should be required for all teenagers to read because while it deals with a very specific problem, it also doesn’t go into such details so as to make it too graphic. Not only does Melinda have to struggle overcoming this huge event in her life, but she also has to deal with an unhappy family life. She also struggles fitting in at school, which is another problem teenagers face today. Anderson does a fabulous job really getting into the teenage mind and uses it to help other teenagers who read her books. While I did enjoy this book, the characters are a little flat and could have been developed a little more. I also felt like people would have noticed the change in Melinda’s personality (like her parents or classmates). The ending still left some questions unanswered (why didn’t she get him arrested?!) and seemed a little abrupt. Overall it is a good book and I think teenagers (and adults with teenagers) should read this book. It could open the gates to talking about some of the more delicate topics.
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Format: ebook, hardcover, paperback
Page Nos.: 244
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 1999
Available for Purchase: Amazon