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Anderson, Laurie Halse
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999
ISBN 0374371520

(5 booktalks)

Booktalk #1
What would you do if you were at a party and you were raped?  Would you call the police?  That is exactly what happens to Melinda Sardino.  She is so traumatized that it affects her family life, her friendships, and she begins withdraws into her self. How would you handle this situation?  To see if Melinda overcomes this tragedy you must read "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson.
[Every girl going into high school needs to read this book.  You never know.  I liked this book a lot, it was very deep and according to statistics it happens so often with acquaintances. -- Karen Womack <>]

Booktalk #2

I am an outcast.

My first day of high school and I can see, as we are herded into the auditorium for orientation, that I don’t fit in. Everyone else falls into a clan – you know, a clique; THE JOCKS, THE CHEERLEADERS, FUTURE FASCISTS OF AMERICA, GOTHS, …well, you get the idea.

Me? I am clanless…I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, and definitely the wrong attitude. No one will speak to me.

I am an outcast.

The orientation begins with “the rules” – All lies!
#1. We are here to help you!
#2. You will have enough time to get to your classes between bells.
#3. The dress code will be enforced.
#4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
#5. Our football team will win the championship.
#6. We expect more of you here.
#7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
#8 Your schedule was created with your needs in mind.
#9. Your locker combination is private.
#10. These will be the years you will look back on most fondly.

Yeah, right! Fondly. NOT.

I didn’t want high school to start out this way – it just sort of happened. I’m not used to failing classes. I don’t skip school. I talk. I have friends.

Not any more.

It all started at that end-of-the-summer party. Big deal, that party. Rachel and I were pretty excited about going to a high school party.

Now, they all blame me – they blame me for calling the cops and closing down the party. Even Rachel hates me.

I am an outcast.

No one knows the truth about that night. No one CARES to know the truth. I don’t know the truth - can’t face the truth, anyway.

So, I get a brilliant idea … if they won’t talk to me, then I won’t talk to them! I’ll just retreat. Yes, I’ll retreat into that old janitor’s closet I found on Senior Hall. No one will find me there. The closet is abandoned – it has no purpose, no name…. Perfect, for me. There, I can think.

Problem is, I don’t want to think. I fainted in biology class the other day and hit my head on the table. I was really worried… Worried when the doctor looked into the back of my eyes with a bright light. Could she read the thoughts hidden there? What will she do? Call the cops? Send me to the nuthouse?

Can’t they understand that the whole point of NOT talking about it, of silencing the memory, is to make it go away. IT won’t. I’ll need brain surgery to cut IT out of my head.

IT is my nightmare … and I can’t wake up.

Bonnie Phinney  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

Booktalk #3

It’s the first morning of high school and  Melinda has seven new notebooks, a skirt she hates and a stomach ache. The empty school bus comes to her corner. She’s the first pick-up of the day. She sits in the front, hoping to make eye contact with one of her friends, that is if any of them has decided to talk to her yet.
                    The bus picks up students in groups of four or five. As they walk down the aisle, people who were Melinda’s middle school lab partners or gym buddies glare at her. This is what she’s been dreading. As they leave the last stop, she is the only person sitting alone.
                    At school, the ninth graders are herded into the auditorium. Again Melinda has no one to sit with. The kids behind her laugh at something so loud, she knows they’re laughing about her. She turns around only to see Rachel, her ex-best friend, at the center of the crowd. This is the girl who suffered through brownies with Melinda, who taught her how to swim, who understood about her parents. She’s the only person in the entire galaxy Melinda is dying to tell the truth about that night. Their eyes meet for a second and Melinda’s throat burns with the desire to talk. But Rachel mouths the words “I hate you” and turns back to laughing with her friends.
                    Rachel actually hates Melinda. But then so does everybody else. Who can blame them? That loser, Melinda, busted the biggest party of the summer by calling the cops. If only she could tell Rachel why she made the call. But obviously, she can’t. And if she can’t tell Rachel, she can’t tell anyone.
                    The way Melinda sees it, if she’s got to keep something this painful to herself, why bother talking at all?  (Ona Gritz,

Booktalk #4

Seven new notebooks, a skirt she hated, and a stomachache. Melinda Sordino started out her first day of high school with only that. She used to be a girl with lots of friends, with everyone on her side, until she busted a summer party by calling the cops. Now, since she is in high school, Melinda is trying to figure out where she belongs and who she is, while trying to gain her old friends back. Since nobody will talk, or even acknowledge her, she has become anti-social to everyone around her, except her art teacher.
        When Melinda takes her first step onto the school bus, every eye locks onto her. Gossip has spread about what happened at that summer party. By now, everyone knows. Kids are whispering and pointing at her all day long, talking about her when she isn’t around. All Melinda wants is someone who she can trust and call a friend. When the bus reaches school, Melinda thinks her day can’t possibly get any worse, it does.
        I thought Speak was fantastic! When I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. From page 1 to page 198, Laurie Halse Anderson captures every little detail that teens go through everyday like, dealing with all the cliques and becoming accepted by your peers. Speak kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book. I would recommend Speak to anybody, boy or girl, from middle school to high school. (Kayti L., Maroa - Forsyth Middle School)

Booktalk #5

Merryweather High had plenty of groups. Melinda didn't belong in any of them. A few people whispered about her as she walked by to find her seat in the gym for the assembly. No one liked her. No one wanted her to sit by them. She was an outcast. There is always something in the back of her head haunting her that won't go away. She tries to avoid it, but it keeps coming back. She thinks that if she tries hard enough she'll forget. It keeps popping up in her head all the time. She can't tell anyone about it. She thought no one would believe her. No one would care. It was at an end of the summer party where she called the 911. Thats what started the hatred, the lies and her silence. If her friends would have just given her a chance to speak it would have been different. Will Melinda ever speak?  (Mariah Snyder, Whiting Community School Whiting, Iowa) 

SUBJECTS: High schools -- Fiction
                        Schools -- Fiction
                        Emotional problems -- Fiction
                        Rape -- Fiction.


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