Speak: 20th Anniversary Edition

Publication: January 15, 2019

A timeless novel about consent and finding the courage to speak up for yourself, the twentieth anniversary edition of the classic novel that has spoken to so many young adults now includes a new introduction by acclaimed writer, host, speaker, and cultural commentator Ashley C. Ford as well as an afterword by New York Times-bestselling author of All American Boys and Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds. This edition will also feature an updated Q&A, resource list, and essay and poem from Laurie Halse Anderson.

Contributor Bios:

Ashley C. Ford lives in Brooklyn by way of Indiana. She is currently writing her memoir, Somebody’s Daughter, which will be published by Flatiron Books under the imprint An Oprah Book. Ford hosts Brooklyn-based news & culture TV show (and podcast!), 112BK, and is working on a collection of interviews (B-Side Chats) with her husband, Kelly Stacy.

Ford has written or guest-edited for The Guardian, ELLEBuzzFeed, Slate, Teen Vogue, New York MagazineLenny Letter, INTO and various other web and print publications. She’s taught creative nonfiction writing at The New School and Catapult.Co, and also had her work listed among Longform & Longread’s Best of 2017. She also contributed to CupOfJo.Com & hosted Fortune Favors The Bold, a collaboration between Gimlet Creative and Mastercard.

While working as a development executive for Matter Studios, Ford focused on web series and documentaries. She was also the host of the first season of Audible.Com’s literary interview series, Authorized. She has been named among Forbes Magazine‘s 30 Under 30 in Media (2017), Brooklyn Magazine‘s Brooklyn 100 (2016), and Time Out New York’s New Yorkers of The Year (2017).

Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Reynolds was named the American Booksellers Association’s 2017 and 2018 spokesperson for Indies First, and served as the national spokesperson for the 2018 celebration of School Library Month in April 2018, sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Jason’s many works of fiction include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave As You, For Every One, Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), and Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.


Other Editions:

Original English and international editions
The Graphic Novel
Cuéntalo (Graphic Novel, Spanish)

Read an Excerpt
Discussion Guide Discussion Guide
Censorship Censorship

Challenges and support for this book

Resources Resources

Including assault survivor help

Listen Listen

A poem by Laurie

Here's the Thing Here's the Thing

Will there be a Speak sequel?

Activities and Projects Activities and Projects
Teaching Units Teaching Units
Playlist Playlist

Praise for Speak: 20th Anniversary Edition

“[Anderson] gave me a gift—the gift of honesty—and a challenge to always tell the truth in the things I write. That if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be giving teen readers the anchor they need to survive, and I wouldn’t be living up to the bar Anderson set.” Dhonielle Clayton, Book Riot

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m curious to know how people reacted when they first read Speak, given there was no precedent to it in modern YA. Because you set the precedent.

Nobody made much of a big deal about it when it came out, other than it was a National Book Award finalist. No publicity, no advertising, no book tour.

The first group of teachers and librarians who read it started to share it with teen readers and were stunned by the feedback they got. Kids who hated reading finished it in one night and asked for another book like it. Incredible powerful conversations grew out of the book and within a few years it started to be placed in curriculum.

The censorship controversies that arose really helped frame the national discussion; what do we want our kids to be reading and why? I’m incredibly proud to have written a story that has played a part in giving our kids an entire world of literature that they love.

(from Laurie’s Goodreads Q&A)

Is Melinda from Speak inspired by someone?

Me. About 10% of the story is based on what I went through after my sexual assault, which happened the summer before 9th grade. (Very different circumstances than Melinda’s rape.)

I started with the depression I struggled with because I didn’t tell anyone either. Then Melinda showed up in my imagination and made the story her own.

(from Laurie’s Goodreads Q&A)

What is your advice for authors writing very emotional books, like Speak or Wintergirls?

Take your time and practice good self-care. Make sure you are putting healthy things in your life, like exercise and time with friends. Books that explore difficult topics take a lot of energy.

(from Laurie’s Goodreads Q&A)

Your book Speak is constantly on the banned books lists at schools. What would you say to those parents that are pushing for Speak to be banned?

I would ask them why they are afraid to talk to their kids about sexual violence.

Every two minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted. About 17% of American women and 3% American men have been sexually assaulted. 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. And juvenile victims know their assailant in 93% of cases.

Parents must face up to their responsibilities to prepare their children about the dangers of the world. They must get over their own squeamishness about discussing human sexuality in order to do so. If more boys were taught by their parents what sexual consent is, and that it is required – ALWAYS – we’d have less sexual violence.

If girls and women felt safer to speak up after a sexual assault, and the judicial system was prepared to consistently prosecute and punish rapists, then we’d begin to see those horrible numbers go down. (Lots more very good Statistics can be found here: https://www.rainn.org/statistics)

Some parents cringe at the idea of talking to their kids about these things. I have no patience for that. Who they want to be educating (and miseducating their kids about these things? Music videos? Internet porn? Locker room BS?

It’s hard to be a parent. It’s a whole lot harder to be the parent of a kid who has been sexually assaulted, or who is in jail after being found guilty of sexual assault. SPEAK opens the doors to some of the most important conversations a family will ever have.

(from Laurie’s Goodreads Q&A)

How were you able to get so much in character when writing Speak? I felt like the main protagonist was a real person and I could identify with her so closely.

Unlike a lot of adults, I vividly remember what it was like to be a teenager. I think that is my superpower.

(from Laurie’s Goodreads Q&A)

What are your thoughts on the term “date rape”?

I think it should be eliminated. Rape is rape; doesn’t matter the context.

If a bad guy steals your wallet at the end of a date, do we call it a “date mugging?” Do we allow “date murders” to be treated differently than murders that don’t happen after a date?

Of course not.

(from Laurie’s Goodreads Q&A)

What was it inspired you to write your first book?

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.

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