Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – Review


Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

First publication date: 1999

Pages: 198

Price: $15.99 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.”

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.


First Sentence 

“It is my first morning of high school.”


Laurie Halse Anderson has been one of my favorite authors for quite some time now. I first landed upon Speak, at a used book sale and I’ve read it twice since. Her writing give me chills and delineates hurt and redemption all at once. Her stories are meticulously crafted, fictional, yet underlined with so much truth. Since reading Speak, I have read Wintergirls, which is another blog post on it’s own, and Catalyst, all very powerful stories that have changed my perception of the world.

“I have never heard a more eloquent silence.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Speak has gotten lots of attention, being one of the most notoriously known YA novels published in the end of the twentieth century. A very controversial novel, read throughout schools but also one of the most banned/challenged for the decade after its release all the while racking multiple literary awards. Its controversy is what attracted me to the novel in the first place, and I am happy to say that this one was most definitely worth my time!

This novel was so interesting to me because it quite literally speaks out the truth, and being published during the years it was, the truth was not always easily welcomed. We can see how hard the toll of sexual assault can have on someone as young as Melinda and how her struggle reflects onto other things in her life, like her friendships and her grades at school. I don’t really have much to say on this novel, truth be told. I find that Laurie Halse Anderson writes important books and I am really happy to be able to read books that matter as much as hers do. Speak was revolutionary during its release and still is for many now, myself included. A truly powerful and thought-provoking read. Speak is a novel we should all have on our shelves.

“You can’t speak up for your right to be silent. That’s letting the bad guys win.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Final Review/Recommendation 


Reading Speak really changed my perception of my everyday life. Some people are struggling every day and we don’t see it. I read this novel for the first time freshman year and even though I have not been through what Melinda went through, I could still attach myself emotionally to her story. I’d recommend Speak to someone who has maybe gone through similar struggles as Melinda and want to know they aren’t alone, or to anyone who just wants a truthful yet short read for the summer. (since its only 198 pages)

“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them. They need us to be brave enough to give them great books so they can learn how to grow up into the men and women we want them to be.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak



Let me know what you thought of Speak or my review!

Have a nice day 😉