[Review] Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson


Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Series: None

Publication Date: October 22nd, 1999

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Number of Pages: 197

Source: Public library

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.


Laurie Halse Anderson is officially one of my all-time favorite authors.

Wow I can’t believe I didn’t read Speak earlier. I loved this book!

Speak is infamous in the YA genre. It’s renowned as a modern contemporary classic and it’s one of the most commonly known novels. I think it deserves the fame it gets.

The narrator, Melinda, had an exceptionally written voice. I could feel the insecurity and the difficulty she had with expressing herself. She was snarky and funny. The voice was on-point and one that made me really empathize with her. I loved her character so much. Her growth, highs and lows, everything was done so well.

I have a love-hate relationship with the length of the book. Part of me wants it to be longer. (Highlight to read minor spoiler)I wanted to see the influence of learning about the rape on the rest of school and the reconciliation of Rachel and Melinda (if there was one). I wanted to see how well Melinda handled have this information be spread to the rest of the school. In a way the book did, but I wish there was more. The other part of me likes it’s slim size. Anderson wasted no time in writing a novel with a plot that could have been boring if done incorrectly. She addressed the important events in each semester but still kept it a pace that didn’t feel too rushed. I felt like I was living the school year with Melinda yet it didn’t drag. She packed quite a bit of plot into such a small number of pages.

I don’t know if it’s appropriate to discuss this but FREAKING DAVID PETRAKIS. It’s obvious that if Speak had included romance, that he would have been the love interest. I loved him as a character because I just adore nerdy male characters. While I wish we had seen more of him, a bigger part of me likes that the novel focused more on Melinda. He might have been a “potential love interest”, but a bigger part of his role was to show the impact of the rape on Melinda. He was not used to manufacture a romance, but to show that Melinda didn’t trust boys anymore, no matter how nice or trustworthy they were.

Speak was a book that made me really think about the messages that Anderson wanted to share. The surface theme was obvious. Sometimes it may be difficult to stand up for yourself. There are many instances throughout the book that show us exactly what she wanted to tell readers. The most emphasized example was Melinda’s inability to speak out about her situation. Not only this but there were more instances of difficulty to speak.

At the same time, she thread different messages into the novel. Trust. Doing what is right. That the truth may not be right. What true friends are. There are multiple layers to the novel and it’s only about 200 pages long.

I sincerely wish that I had not been spoiled. I wish that I had bought this and read it back in middle school. I was going to buy this book but was warned about the rape by the librarian. It’s supposed to be a secret that Melinda was raped but unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience the book the way it was supposed to be. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic book.

5/5 Stars


  1. Haha yeah! And it’s a really short, quick book. I also like how there were a lot of overlaps on the themes. I think that both of those make Speak a good book to reread.
    Thanks for visiting Dancing Through the Pages!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s