By Bibliogrrrl


by Laurie Halse Anderson


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  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 0312674392
  • Link: Goodreads
  • Format: Paperback
  • Published on: May 10th 2011 (first published October 22nd 1999)
  • Published by: Square Fish

Trigger warning: Speak deals with rape.

It’s Melinda Sordino’s freshman year of high school and it gets off to a bad start. She called the police at an end of summer party. The cops break up the party and some people get busted. So when school starts, she’s an outcast. Her former friends hate her. Even perfect strangers hate her. Melinda’s parents are no help, either. So Melinda spends most of the school year silent and avoiding people. It’s difficult for her to tell the truth about what really happened at the party.


I had heard a lot of good things about Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson but it took me a long time to get around to reading it. One of the things I was worried about was that I knew before I started reading that Melinda was raped at the party. I wasn’t sure if that was a big enough spoiler to lesson my enjoyment of the book. But I don’t think it did – rape was hinted at from pretty early on and I think I would’ve guessed at it. I was also debating about mentioning it in my review, but thought it was important to mention from the standpoint of including a trigger warning.

The fact of the matter is that I really enjoyed Speak. Melinda is understandably depressed and has every reason to be cynical. I don’t want to call this an easy read, because there’s nothing easy about the subject matter. Rather, Speak is a fast read, mostly thanks to Anderson’s writing style. I really appreciated how Anderson treated the rape in Speak. Yes, Melinda was drinking at the party, but there’s never any question or debate about whether what happened was a rape. All too often, rape victims are put on trial themselves. People want to know what they were wearing or whether they were drinking as though these are somehow measuring sticks to whether a victim was “asking for it.” Hint: nobody asks to be raped. Major props to Anderson for dealing with rape in the manner she did.

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