Speak - by Laurie Halse Anderson

"Melinda finally finds her voice"

Speak, a teenager’s tale of the hardships of high school, begins with Melinda’s first day as a freshman at Merryweather High School. She finds herself friendless and an outcast because of something that happened at a party she went to with her former best friend Rachel Bruin. After the incident, Melinda panics and calls the police. When the police arrive, some of the people at the party are arrested and all of them are very annoyed with Melinda, especially Rachel. But no one knows the full reason why she called the police, including the readers. As the book continues through the marking periods, which separate parts of the book into different sections of the year, it becomes clear that whatever happened to Melinda at the party involves a Merryweather High senior named Andy Evans. Melinda refers to Andy throughout the book only as “IT”.

Melinda starts to believe she can forget about what happened when she starts her new art class and meets the teacher, Mr. Freeman. The assignment he gives her to draw a tree becomes, throughout the book, a metaphor for things that Melinda is facing in her life.  Melinda also meets a new friend, a new girl named Heather. But as Heather tries hard to fit in, Melinda becomes more of an outsider. Her grades get even lower and she pretty much completely stops talking. It is only when Rachel, her former best friend, starts dating Andy that Melinda finally tells what is wrong; she Speaks.

I thought this was a great book. The way Laurie Halse Anderson tells Melinda’s story made it very easy to get into. The figurative language she uses is very easy to pick up on. This is a very good book for reluctant readers because not only is it interesting, but it is only a mere 198 pages.  I would recommend this book to anyone, especially girls, looking for a good read. Anderson perfectly describes the troubles of high school, and it is inspiring the way Melinda finally finds her voice.

Her story teaches you that sometimes you have to do things that are hard and uncomfortable to help others.

   - Erin B.