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Cover image for Speak
Large print ed.
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
276 pages (large print) ; 22 cm.
A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school.
Reading Level:
Young Adult.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning UG 4.5 7.


Call Number

On Order



From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer drinking party by calling the cops -- a major infraction in high school society -- so her friends won't talk to her, and even strangers glare at her. She falls silent, retreating into her own head, until a painful confrontation finally frees her voice. This utterly believable, bitterly ironic heroine speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while learning to speak out for herself.

Author Notes

Laurie Halse Anderson was born in Potsdam, New York on October 23, 1961. She received a B.S.L.L. in Languages and Linguistics from Georgetown University in 1984. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a freelance reporter. Her first book, Ndito Runs, was published in 1996. She has written numerous books for children including Turkey Pox, No Time for Mother's Day, Fever 1793, Speak, Catalyst, Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution, Chains and The Impossible Knife of Memory. She also created the Wild at Heart series, which was originally published by American Girl but is now called the Vet Volunteers series and is published by Penguin Books for Young Readers.

Anderson has been nominated and won multiple honorary awards for her literary work. For the masterpiece Speak, Anderson won the Printz Honor Book Award, a National Book Award nomination, Golden Kite award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her book Fever 1793 won the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults selection and the Junior Library Guild selection. In 2008, Chains was selected for the National Book Award Finalist and in 2009 was awarded for its Historical Fiction the Scott O'Dell Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Melinda is already a pariah on her first day as a freshman at Merryweather High. She involved the police in an end-of-summer party, and now everyone shuns her. Unable to tell anyone what actually happened at the party, Melinda withdraws more and more into herself. Rarely speaking, ditching classes, and ignoring school assignments, she spirals downward into apathy and depression. One of the few people to reach her is her art teacher, who helps her express with art what she has so deeply and painfully buried. This potent retelling of the modern classic Speak blends words and images to create magic: a new representation of a teen whose voice is ripped from her, the battles she must wage to find it again, and the triumph of finally being able to speak out. Carroll's grayscale artwork perfectly depicts the starkness of Melinda's depression through strong ink lines and striking panels that rely on pencil and charcoal textural effects for the backgrounds. The characters are distinct and the action flows naturally; it is amazing how closely this version evokes the style and feeling of the original. The dialogue is pulled directly from the novel and enhances the progression of the story and of Melinda's emotions. VERDICT This gripping, powerful work will introduce Speak to a brand-new audience and enthrall longtime fans. Admirers of Carroll's Through the Woods will also appreciate this timeless tale.-Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

PW said of this stunning first novel narrated by a rape survivor, "Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy." Ages 12--up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

In this new graphic novel adaptation of Andersons Speak (rev. 9/99)a powerful narrative of a high school freshmans year of self-preservation after a brutal sexual assaultartist Carroll starkly renders protagonist Melindas pain and healing in black and white, expertly deploying visual perspective and tension to sharpen the emotional impact. As she withdraws further and further under the strain of coping with her classmates cruelty and the terror of crossing paths with the senior who raped her at a party, silence becomes sanctuary. Art becomes a means of expression for her, making the graphic novel format especially resonant with the original theme. Much remains the same narratively as Melinda moves through a world and relationships that cannot be as they were but that still offer tentative hope. The addition of smartphones and social media provides some modern window dressing, and the juxtaposition of a tumultuous first-person narration with the third-person visual perspective will give even longtime devotees a new way to experience Melindas story. anastasia m. Collins (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Anderson's timeless and important tale of high-school sexual assault and its aftermath undergoes a masterful graphic novel transformation.Melinda, a nascent freshman, is raped at a party shortly before the beginning of school. In an attempt to report the crime, Melinda calls 911, and the party is shut down. When the semester begins, Melinda has become a pariah who spends her days silent. In addition to internalizing the emotional aspects of the assault, Melinda is relentlessly bullied by her peers and often runs into her attackera popular seniorwho delights in terrorizing her. Although Anderson's novel came out nearly 20 years ago, this raw adaptation feels current, even with contemporary teenage technological minutiae conspicuously absent. Melinda relies upon art to work as a vulnerary; this visual adaptation takes readers outside Melinda's head and sits them alongside her, seeing what she sees and feeling the importance and power of her desire to create art and express herself. Carroll's stark black-and-white illustrations are exquisitely rendered, capturing the mood through a perfectly calibrated lens. With the rise of women finding their voices and speaking out about sexual assault in the media, this reworking of the enduring 1999 classic should be on everyone's radar.Powerful, necessary, and essential. (Graphic novel. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Anderson's searing debut novel, Speak (1999), about Melinda, a high-school freshman dealing with the traumatic aftermath of rape, is filled with deep feeling, empowering triumph, and moments of startling horror. Not only is Melinda trying to forget her rape a challenge when her rapist freely wanders the halls of their school she's flailing in her classes and an outcast among her peers, until an art-class assignment and some slow-building friendships give her the courage to speak up. Carroll, well-known for her horror comics, does an excellent job of bringing the vignettes of Anderson's novel to the graphic format. In fine-lined grayscale artwork, Carroll powerfully evokes moods with creeping, smudgy shadows; faces with missing eyes and mouths; and jagged panel borders. Grasping hands reach down from tree branches until trees and hands are tumbled together in a juddering haystack of overlapping lines. Those moments are striking, but they're even more striking when set against scenes of Melinda's quiet, isolated day-to-day reality, as well as her gradual growth and steps toward recovery. Carroll strikes a deft balance, gracefully juggling the acute terror of Melinda's rape, the pernicious paranoia that follows her in its wake, the swirling rumors and bullying surrounding her, and glimmering moments of hope and comfort. With spellbinding artwork, this exceptional adaptation masterfully does justice to its source material while adding new depth and nuance.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Melinda begins her freshmen year of high school a pariah, having lost all her old friends after she called the police and completely disrupted the big end-of-summer party. At home, her parents are slowly rending their marriage asunder every night. Eventually, she finds solace in art class but is perplexed by the seemingly absurd yearlong assignment to draw a tree. Trapping Melinda in this decaying half-life is her inability to speak her soul truly; she can converse, but her energies are devoted to hiding what really happened to her at that dreadful party, so much so that her silence threatens to destroy her. Will Melinda finally unlock her voice and reveal her life-altering secret before the darkness claims another innocent victim? This classic YA novel from National Book Award finalist Anderson (Fever 1793) detailing the aftershocks of sexual assault is visually brought to life by the astounding illustrations of Eisner Award-winning artist Carroll (Through the Woods). Verdict Conveying both subtly complex human emotion while delivering powerfully expressionistic emotional acuity, Carroll renders a story that fits squarely within the current zeitgeist yet remains a work of art for all time.-Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.