Samantha’s Letter Essay #3: Speak

I most recently finished the novel Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak is a 198 page realistic fiction story that conveys big topics. Laurie Halse Anderson. She has written a total of 6 novels, 6 picture books and a 12 book series. However, she is best known for her book Speak, which was published in October of 1999. This novel was a National Book Award Finalist. It has made a difference in many lives of teenagers and she has received thousands of letters & emails about how it’s affected their lives in the past 10 years. This is what got Anderson to publish a 10 year-anniversary edition, (which is the one I read,) and it’s added stanzas of the letters she received about other people’s stories and un update on Anderson’s Own life since it was published. I chose this book because, after I finished my last book, I had wanted to read something different so Mr. Jockers handed me Speak and told me to consider it. When I flipped the book over to read the summary, I was surprised. The only summarizing portion of the paragraph was half of a sentence long. But, something about that sentence that read, “About a girl who chooses not to speak at all rather than give voice to the truth,” intrigued me. The book was not what I expected. It was better.

In the novel, Speak, Melinda is walking into her freshmen year of high school, as The Girl who called the Cops at that Party over the summer. Nobody except for her and “IT” knew why she did it, but ever since that night melinda has been afraid to say anything that could possibly be questioned. But, this is causing her to live with fear. Not even her parents understand why she doesn’t talk and she hesitant to tell her ex-best friend Rachel because she might not believe her. Art class and ditching school seem to be her only saving grace in high school. She made a sort of friend for a while, but lost that friend after hardly replying  to her. Melinda struggles from depression and how to tell the truth all year long. The only way to get better is to speak but melinda doesn’t think she is ready to do it.

I liked the way the author didn’t break the story into 30 or so chapters. Instead, Anderson, broke the book into the 3 marking periods of Melinda’s school year. Within each marking period, she had subtitles for each set of paragraphs. To break up melinda’s thoughts and actions. The main character was the most unique main character I’ve ever read about. Anderson represented the situation perfectly without using more than 3 characters. When somebody spoke to Melinda, she would simply write this,

“Me:” with no words attached.

Somehow, I was able to imagine her and the other characters’ expressions by only reading that line. I wish that the author would have added a few pages describing what the next three years of Melinda’s high school were like for her, after she began to speak. I was interested metaphor the author used to show how Melinda felt about herself in this passage,

“There is a sprinkling of losers like me scattered among the happy teenagers, prunes in the oatmeal of school.” (128.) Overall I rate this book an eight out of ten.  

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1 thought on “Samantha’s Letter Essay #3: Speak

  1. Samantha,

    I really liked your review of Speak. I was drawn to your review because I have just started reading Speak and I already love it so I wanted to hear what your thought of it. I admire how you summarized this because you made it sound so interesting without giving away the major plot. If I didn’t already have it in my room waiting to be finished, I would definitely want to get my hands on this book.


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