Speak

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.

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Discussion Guide Discussion Guide
Censorship Censorship

Challenges and support for this book

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Including assault survivor help

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A poem by Laurie

Here's the Thing Here's the Thing

Will there be a Speak sequel?

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Praise for Speak

“In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. . . . Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers’ empathy. . . . But the book’s overall gritty realism and Melinda’s hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last.”
The Horn Book, Starred Review

“A frightening and sobering look at the cruelty and viciousness that pervade much of contemporary high school life, as real as today’s headlines. . . . The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn . . . a novel that will be hard for readers to forget.”
Kirkus Reviews, Pointer Review

“Melinda’s pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.”
School Library Journal

“A story told with acute insight, acid wit, and affecting prose.”
Library Journal

“Melinda’s voice is distinct, unusual, and very real as she recounts her past and present experiences in bitterly ironic, occasionally even amusing vignettes. . . . Melinda’s sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers.”
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Frequently Asked Questions

What was it inspired you to write your first book?

With reenactors portraying the 1st Rhode Island Regiment of the Continental Army
I wrote Speak when my oldest daughter went to middle school. It helped me break the twenty-five years of silence I’d maintained after my sexual assault. It has become a book that all families can use to talk to their kids about harsh realities of life, and the legal and moral rules that govern consent and sexual intimacy. It’s amazing what can happen when you find your voice.

In the afterword of “Speak,” you wrote that you remember how it was to feel like Melinda. Do you remember how it was to feel like Lia?

Yes. I never developed a clinical eating disorder, but for decades I had a very confused image of myself, and I put way too much emphasis on how I looked. I remember the self-hatred and the terrible thoughts. Writing Wintergirls was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was one of the healthiest, too. I have finally made peace with my body, and that has allowed the real me—my spirit, my intellect, and my heart—to soar.

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