Speak Novel Essay Questions

In her novel Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Melinda Sordino. She is a new student at Merryweather High School. Melinda’s first year as a freshman is full of misery and desperation. She calls herself an “outcast” (4). Melinda’s best friend, Rachel, hates her after the horrible party in last summer. Melinda was raped by a boy whose name is Andy Evans. He left so many scars in the soul of a teenage girl, Melinda. After that shocking event, she does not dare to speak up. However, Melinda Sordino is not the only important character in the novel. There are several significant minor characters as well. These include Heather, a new student from Ohio, David Petrakis, Melinda’s lab partner, and Mr. Freeman, Melinda’s art teacher. Heather is a new student from Ohio who unwittingly helps Melinda to grow stronger. At first, she becomes Melinda’s closest friend at school. Unlike Melinda, Heather always tries to make many friends by taking part in five clubs and joining a group of cruel girls, the Marthas. Heather is not treating Melinda like a real friend. She does not even care why people behave badly to her friend, or what problem Melinda is

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

About the Book

Ever since she called 911 from a teen party, Melinda has quieted her voice, literally and figuratively. She only finds it when its needed to prevent a reoccurrence of the same horror. This stunning look at sexual assault and peer pressure is presented in a highly readable form.

About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson was born in Potsdam, a cold place in northern New York State where as a little girl, she pounded away at her father’s old typewriter for hours, writing newspaper columns, stories, and letters. She never intended to be an author. At Georgetown University, she majored in foreign languages and linguistics. Laurie hit the real world with no idea of what kind of work she wanted to do. She tried everything, including cleaning banks, milking cows, and working as a stockbroker. Being a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer was a slight improvement, but she eventually quit to write books. Her first novel, Speak, was a National Book Award Finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, a New York Times Bestseller, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. Laurie currently lives with her family in Mexico, New York. To find out more about Laurie, visit her website at www.writerlady.com.

Reprinted with permission from Penguin Books.

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