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Speak Hardcover – October 22, 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 5,885 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

From Publishers Weekly

In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. At school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine's pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police at a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers do not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice. Through the first-person narration, the author makes Melinda's pain palpable: "I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special." Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which her attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 22, 1999)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 197 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0374371520
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0374371524
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 12 - 18 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 690L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 7 - 9
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.8 x 0.95 x 8.55 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 5,885 ratings

About the author

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Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous American Library Association and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also earned a spot on the Carnegie Medal Short List.

Laurie received the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature."

Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York State, an hour south of the Canadian border, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. Right now she's finishing up her next YA novel and researching Ashes, which will conclude the adventure of Isabel and Curzon that readers enjoyed in her historical novels Chains and Forge.

You'll find loads more information about Laurie and her books on her website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, http://twitter.com/halseanderson, on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/lauriehalseanderson, and on her blog, http://madwomanintheforest.com/blog/.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
5,885 global ratings

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Sami-Mae
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
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Kat
3.0 out of 5 stars A realistic look at high school in the 90s
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2013
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book means a lot to me!
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whereiskfr
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally gripping
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2011
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Ms. J. Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2011
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