“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside– walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”
Speak tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a freshman at Merryweather High who, just before school started, called the cops at a party. Everyone hates her– she’s left alone, desperate to fit in with someone. But they don’t know what really happened at the party, and when the story gets out, nothing will be the same.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s nearly impossible to talk about this book without doing so, so this will be a fairly short review. This is one powerful book. It says so much, while Melinda says so little. But getting this look inside of the mind of a girl who has been through everything Melinda has– it’s powerful stuff. This is one of those books that really makes you think about how you treat other people, and it should not be missed.
Speak also has a Lifetime movie adaption, which I’m unsure whether to watch because A. I hate Lifetime and B. I don’t know if it’ll be worth it. The cast includes Kristen Stewart as Melinda, that kid from Sky High, and Steve Zahn, which I find to be a very strange cast, so yeah. If I do watch it, I’ll let you guys know whether it’s worth it.
And although I really like the story, I think the most powerful thing about the entire book is Laurie Halse Anderson’s little poem at the beginning. I don’t think all of the versions of this book include the poem, considering it’s about people’s reactions to the book, and it has some spoilers, but I’d like to share it here:
You write to us
from Houston, Brooklyn, Peoria, Rye, NY,
LA, DC, Everyanywhere USA to my mailbox, My
A livejournal of bffs whispering
Onehundredthousand whispers to Melinda and
I was raped, too
sexually assaulted in seventh grade,
tenth grade, the summer after graduation
at a party
i was 16
i was 14
i was 5 and he did it for three years
i loved him
i didn’t even know him.
He was my best friend’s brother,
my grandfather, father, mommy’s boyfriend,
i met him for the first time that night and–
four guys took turns, and–
i’m a boy and this happened to me, and–
. . . I got pregnant I gave up my daughter for adoption . . .
did it happen to you, too?
i wasn’t raped, but
my dad drinks, but
i hate talking, but
my brother was shot, but
i am outcast, but
my parents split up, but
i am clanless, but
we lost our house, but
i have secrets– seven years of secrets
and i cut
myself my friends cut
we all cut cut cut
to let out the pain
. . . my 5-year-old cousin was raped– he’s beginning to act out now . . .
do you have suicidal thoughts?
do you want to kill him?
Melinda is a lot like this girl I know
No she’s a lot like
i am MelindaSarah
i am MelindaRogelio i am MelindaMegan,
it keeps hurting, but
this book cracked my shell
it keeps hurting I hurt, but
but your book cracked my shell.
I cried when I read it.
I laughed when I read it
is that dumb?
I sat with the girl–
you know, that girl–
I sat with her because nobody sits with her at lunch
and I’m a cheerleader, so there.
speak changed my life
cracked my shell
made me think
wings this book
opened my mouth
i whispered, cried
rolled up my sleeves i
hate talking but
I am trying.
You made me remember who I am.
PS. Our class is gonna analyze this thing to death.
With the exceptions of the first and last stanzas, this poem comes from lines and words taken from the thousands of letters and e-mails that Laurie has gotten in the past twelve years.
That’s all. I’ll leave you to digest that. Thanks for reading!