Speak Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Speak

In the book, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a young girl, Melinda, who used to be a “popular girl” is now an outcast. She used to be very social, outgoing, and loved until one night at a party. Things went wrong and Melinda called the cops. There was drinking and drugs at the party, but this isn't the reason Melinda decided to crash the party.
Click here to see the rest of this review

    After that night, no one could forgive her. Her friends wouldn't talk to her, and everyone ignored her. No one wants to listen to Melinda's explanations, and well, Melinda doesn't even feel like talking to anyone about that night.
    No one knows that the real reason Melinda called the cops was because of rape. She was drunk and didn't know it happened until after it happened. She got so scared that she called the cops. When they showed up she ran and didn't say anything to anyone.
    Melinda was into art at school and expressed all of her feelings through it. But she didn't like her year assignment. Everyone was given a topic that they had to center all of there projects around. When Melinda opened her paper, it read “trees”. She had no idea what she was going to do with this topic. But her art teacher, felt as if she could really open up through all her artwork.
   Melinda hangs out everyday in a janitors closet just so that she wont have to go to class. Even during assembly's and things like that. But one day, Andy, the boy who raped her at the party, traps her in it and tries to rape her again. Melinda says no, but he doesn't care. She breaks a mirror and takes a piece to cut his neck. A girl walks in because she heard all the screaming. She then tells everyone and Rachel, Melinda's ex-best friend and now Andy's girlfriend, apologizes for everything.
The review of this Book prepared by Ellen

In the begining of the school year Melinda is now a high school freshman, along with her new friend Heather. Heather stuggles to fit in and make friends while Melinda seems to have no desire for either. Clearly, something is going on in Melinda's head. This thing, that's preventing her from being social, continues throughout the book and begins to manifest itself physically in the form of Melinda biting her lips until they bleed and other forms of self-mutilation. Little by little, we are clued in as to what happened to Melinda. She was at a party that previous summer and was raped by a strong, handsome athlete, who was older than her. Melinda was unable to speak, unable to say no and throughout the entirety of the book it's hard for her to speak around anyone. Melinda still does speak, though, occasionally. After the rape, she called the police and many kids at the party were arrested for under-age drinking. Everyone seems to know someone that was at that party, and everyone seems to know that it was Melinda who called the police, but no one knows why she did it. Everyone treats her terribly and will not talk to her, but she will not tell them why she called the police. Towards the end of the book, Melinda finally admits to herself and others that she was raped. Andy, the jock that raped her confronts her in her redecorated janitor's closet and hits her. He is mad that she told everyone what he did and now he wants revenge. Melinda is finally able to speak and screams "no!" and cuts him with glass. Outside the door to the closet is her friend Nicole and the entire girl's lacrosse team ready to save her. Finally everyone understands. Melinda goes from outcast to popular in a matter of a day. She goes to turn in her tree art project and receives an A+. Melinda is now able to speak out and tell her story.
The review of this Book prepared by Joe Sass

This is a story about silence--the causes and effects, the costs and benefits, but mostly the breaching of it. Late summer before her freshman year in high school, Melinda calls 911 ending a party and becoming a pariah. The first day of class a few weeks later, she is left to talk with Heather, a new girl, while everyone else snickers or ignores her. Melinda's parents are not getting along, Heather deserts her for the Martha's, girls who dress, act, and try to think as one, and it appears in Melinda's dreams and around every corner. When day-to-day existence becomes too much to bear she takes refuge in a janitor's closet, to which she adds some posters and a comforter. But even there she's not safe from Andy Evans, the boy who raped her at the party and who is now dating the girl who used to be her best friend. Anderson provides the reader with hints of what happened at the party throughout the text, as Melinda attempts to break her silence and explain why she had to call 911.
The review of this Book prepared by Sarah

Melinda was raped at a party over the summer. She gets upset and calls the police on the party, and now everyone hates her. She couldn't tell her friends what happened, so they all deserted her and hate her. She is paranoid about boys all year. She begins to skip classes and whole days. Her old best friend Rachel (now Rachelle because she hangs out with the exchange students) is dating the boy who raped her. Melinda's parents are fighting with her and each other. She had one friend for a while, but then she left to hang out with the perfect kids. A boy in her class who seemed quiet suddenly spoke out and then they became friend-ish. He invites her over to celebrate a basketball victory but she freaks out and refuses even though she likes him. She also starts to be friends with her old friend Ivy, who helps her through some stuff. Melinda becomes a bit more normal. Melinda tells Rachel what happened at the party but she doesn't believe her and gets mad.Then at the prom, Rachel confronts Andy (the rapist) and he denies it, but she dumps him anyway. All year Melinda is working on an art theme of tree. At first they were bad, then they were all dead, then they were twisted and scarred, then at the end of the book the trees start to be more healing kind of wounded. (The trees reflect Melinda). Andy traps Melinda in the coat closet that she hangs out in during classes. He tries to rape her again. Melinda finally has the ability to say no and she breaks her mirror to hold glass to his neck. Her old friend Nicole finds them in there and tells everyone what really happened. At the very end, everyone knows what happened and are sympathetic toward her. They're sorry. Then Melinda is able to break her year-long silence and tells her art teacher what happened.
The review of this Book prepared by Gabbie Robbins

Melinda Sordino knows she is an outcast.   She called the cops on an end of summer party.   Her friends hate her, her enemies hate her, and people who don't know her hate her.   What they don't know is that she called the cops because she was raped.   She doesn't have any friends, until she meets Heather, a girl who is new to the school.   She also likes her art teacher who is nice and unique.   Her parents have problems and she really needs help, but nobody knows because she doesn't talk to anyone except for Mr. Freeman, the art teacher, and Ivy, a used to be friend.   She gets into a lot of trouble when she starts to skip school. Rachel, her used to be best friend, doesn't believe she was raped.   She knows that Rachel will probably tell the boy and then he might try to rape her again.

The review of this Book prepared by Cloud City

Melinda Sordino seems like an average first year high school student. She shuffles her way through the crowded hallways of her new school, her old friends are changing and she's having a hard time fitting in.

What the reader doesn't know is why Melinda doesn't try to fit in. Melinda for a reason we don't know has called the police at a party the previous summer. It was a huge party with a lot of underage drinking and people got arrested. Even in the largest of schools, and her school is huge, rumors get around quickly. Everyone knows someone that was at the party. No one likes her. She gets pushed down the bleachers, she gets her books thrown out of her hands and people throw things at her on the bus.

Melinda begins to show self-inflicted physical signs of her pain. She bites her lip so much it bleeds, she stops bathing and often talks about her dirty hair and clothing. Melinda also gains weight. While most teens are depressed, Melinda shows a ton of signs that seemingly no one picks up. Overworked parents and an overcrowded school all contribute to this.
The review of this Book prepared by Tammy

Melinda Sordino starts high school a few weeks after she was raped at a teen drinking party. She is ostracized by everyone at school because she called the police on their party (but did not report the rape) and is almost entirely mute. The story covers her first year of school. She has emotionally distant parents, a girl she hangs out with who is not really her friend, and a crush on her lab partner. She is getting poor grades in most of her classes due to her emotional trauma, but she has a supportive art teacher. As the year goes on, through her art Melinda is able to come to terms with what happened to her.
The review of this Book prepared by Meaghan

Melinda Sordino has just started high school as an outcast. She broke up an end-of-summer party by calling the police, so now nobody will talk to her, which is just as well, as Mel has become completely silent. Something terrible happened to her at the party, which is why she called the cops, but no one is willing to listen.
The review of this Book prepared by Katie Malone

A girl gets raped by a guy in her school and doesn't say anything about it.
The review of this Book prepared by Kerri Lundy

Melinda Sordino is an outcast at her high school because she called the cops to the final summer party of the year. No one wants to listen to her explanations, so she explains the course of her year and reveals in stages what happened at the party.
The review of this Book prepared by Christine G.

Chapter Analysis of Speak

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Kind of sex:    -   rape Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Age group of kid(s) in story:    -   high school Taboo sex story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   rape/molest Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian