Letter Essay #6 – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Madison Ganim

Mr. Jockers

ILA Period 1





Recently, I finished reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Laurie Halse Anderson received the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 2009 for all of her contributions towards young literature. Speak is a 198 page realistic fiction novel. It also became a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999.

I hadn’t heard of Speak until a friend gave it to me after she finished it. She said it was really intense and that I would like it. After reading the blurb on the back of the book, I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down.

Melinda Sordino becomes an outcast at school. All of her old friends, even her best, hate her. Over the summer, before her freshman year of high school, there was a huge end-of-summer party. Melinda was the one who called the cops, but no one knows why. No one cared to ask why, they were too busy hating her. The best place for her to be is alone, thinking. Except there is something she’s trying to push out of her memory.

This book took me on an emotional rollercoaster. I always get too attached to characters in books, movies, or tv shows. They start to affect my life in a weird way. With this particular book, I began to feel both the anger and isolation that Melinda was feeling. Although I have never experienced what Melinda did, I was still able to feel what she was, which makes this book really amazing to read.

On of the most important parts of the book is where Andy starts flirting with Melinda at the end-of-summer party. Melinda had had a few more than a couple beers and was extremely out of it.

“We were on the ground. When did that happen? ‘No.’ No I do not like this. I was on the ground and he was on top of me. My lips mumble something about leaving, about a friend who needs me, about my parents worrying. I can hear myself-I’m mumbling like a deranged drunk. His lips lock on mine and I can’t say anything. I twist my head away. He is so heavy. There is a boulder on me. I open my mouth to breathe, to scream, and his hand covers it. In my head, my voice is as clear as a bell: ‘NO I DON’T WANT TO!’ But I can’t spit it out. I’m trying to remember how we got on the ground and hwere the moon went and wham! Shirt up, shorts down, and the ground smells wet and dark and NO! – I’m not really here, I’m definatley back at Rachel’s, crimping my hair and gluing on fake nails, and he smells like beer and mean and he hurts me hurts me and gets up

and zips his jeans

and smiles.” (page 135-136)

In the book, at the party, Melinda, a freshman, was raped by Andy, a senior. He took total advantage of her. The only thing I would change about this scene, if I were the author, is that I would try to make it more intense and add in a few more details, that way the reader could feel more of Melinda’s pain and emotion. The words the author used for this are perfect. I especially like how at the end, he adds “and he hurts me hurts me and gets up”. It shows how simple and horrid it was, which adds tremendously to the scene.

Out of ten, I would give Speak an eight or and eight and a half. It was extremely well written and I liked how the author wrote it in the way that Melinda would talk (or how I guess she would talk). However, it only gets an eight because there are a few parts that I would change.


Maddie Ganim

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4 thoughts on “Letter Essay #6 – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  1. That was the first book I ever read in a day, Maddie. You should read more novels by the same author; she’s even written some powerful historical fiction, if you’re looking to branch out a bit (hint, hint).

  2. Dear Maddie,
    I really enjoyed reading your letter essay. I liked how you said that it took you on an “emotional roller coaster” and then you explained why. I don’t think that there is anything that could be improved, it was really good!
    Kristen Kuczmarski

  3. Dear Maddie,
    Thank you so much for your letter essay. I was very descriptive and your ideas are very well supported by quotes from the book. You gave a really nice summary and included an important passage from the book that really helped to explain why Melinda was an outcast. I can tell you really liked the book! Actually, only a couple of months ago, Mr. Jockers recommended the book to me! Anyways, you explained the book really well and I think you did an amazing job!
    Emily Larkin

  4. Dear Maddie,

    I really enjoyed reading your letter essay. There was a lot of description in the summary and I liked all your little side comments as well. I also really liked the part of the book you chose. One thing is that at the end when you rated the book and then you said you would change some parts, I’m very curious about which parts you would change and why. Overall you did a great job and it was really interesting to read your analysis of some parts!

    Ashley Gillis

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