Published April 1st, 2001 by Puffin (first published October 22nd, 1999).
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. (Goodreads)
I’ve heard very few things about Speak. Wwhat I did hear was that this would pull at my heartstrings. I also knew that anyone who read it loved it. Now I see why. The writing is beautiful but also powerful. Speak tells the story of a young girl that is hated by everyone around her. She used to have friends, but now she is alone. After calling the cops at an end of summer party her life will never be the same. It takes a while to learn what happened, but the journey is in the story, waiting for the truth to reveal itself. It is both tragic and possibly expected, but it’s the way the story is revealed, the way the young girl fights to live despite feeling alone, abandoned, and ruined. Can she find her voice after it has been taken from her for so long?
Stories like this unfortunately happen in real life. For all I knew I was reading one of those stories. That’s what hurt so much. This story also reflects our inability or unwillingness to listen to the unsaid. It proves that high school can be rough, that kids can be cruel, but that you can also be strong.
Melinda’s story unfolds during four marking periods of her first year in high school. Each marking period is graded and things get worse before there’s even a hope of getting better. This is a must read for all teens. I enjoyed the story and writing so much I picked up Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson next and it was equally amazing, maybe even more so. I rated Speak 4 stars.