Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Book Summary

Melinda used to be outgoing, but as she begins high school, no one will talk to her, and she chooses not to speak to anyone else. At a summer party, she called the police, who broke up the party, and rumors blame her for spoiling a good time. Even her former best friend avoids her. Melinda's parents are distant from her and from each other, so the new art class is the only place Melinda has to express herself. Will she ever speak the truth about what happened last summer?
Speak book cover

Book Review

This is an incredibly powerful book - not to be missed. It includes mature content, but it is not gratuitous or graphically depicted. The focus of the story, in beautiful writing, is about relationships people build and break with each other, and whether truth is worth expressing and facing. This could be an excellent title for parents and middle school students to read and discuss together, because the miscommunication (or non-communication) between Melinda and her parents is a critical piece of this story. It is a memorable book that encourages readers to think before they judge others, to look for people who might need support - even if they aren't asking for it, and to admire the bravery  required to speak the truth.

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Bullying; High School Isolation
  • Rape
  • Selective Mutism
  • Standing Up for Yourself; Strength
  • Family Relationships
  • Popularity; Friendships
  • Art; Process of Creating; Art Therapy

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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