Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Release Date: April 23rd, 2001 (first published 1999)
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.
Laurie Halse Anderson is considered to be one of the most profound YA writers of today. She has a way of weaving together important stories that take the world by storm, and Speak is a fine example of what she has to offer. With its brilliant storyline, troubled yet witty main character, and exceptional writing, it's easy to see why Speak is a favorite among adults and teenagers alike.
Melinda is an outcast. She wanders through life alone in her own little world. Nobody listens, nobody understands. It wasn't always like that, though. She once had a great life, with fun friends and a promising future. But after calling the cops on a party the summer before her freshman year, her life takes an unexpected turn as she walks away with a heavy secret and no friends.
Speak successfully depicts Melinda's journey towards acceptance in a backdrop of a typical freshman year in high school. From making friends to losing them, from grades to cutting class, everything that comprises a normal teen's life was experienced by Melinda. She's such a conrete, real character who is forced to go through all the difficulties of growing up while trying to live with her own dark secret. Her difficulties are so apparent in the novel, yet her voice is witty, a breath of fresh air. Even when she begins to stop speaking, her silence is made up for by her hilarious thoughts about the bleakest things. And it's not the in-your-face, occasionally forced funny. It's honest, clever humor that I loved oh-so-much. Mix that with her emotional pain and you get an undeniably delightful read.
I absolutely, honest-to-God, loved this novel to the tiniest bits and pieces. I wasn't so crazy about the very last page, but all the rest leading to it were gold. Speak is an exquisitely-written, moving novel about a teen's quest to finding her voice and standing up against the odds. A truly inspirational and genuinely funny story, Speak is a novel that will still be talked about decades from now.