Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. NY: Penguin
Melinda was raped at an 8th grade party. She tried to call 911 at the party to report the rape, but was so traumatized that she couldn’t speak. After the police showed up and broke up the party, her fellow party goers are very angry at her. So her freshman year of high school starts off rough with the students, including her best friend, ignoring her and making fun of her. She can’t do anything about it, she can’t speak about it, in fact, she barely speaks at all. She becomes a nervous introverted and depressed young girl. When a new girl named Heather tries to befriend Melinda, she at one point thinks that maybe things are turning around. As Heather tries to fit into the popular crowd at school, she soon leaves Melinda behind. Things begin to change when Melinda’s former best friend Rachel begins to date the boy who raped her. Melinda tries to warn her, but her friend just thinks Melinda is jealous. Rachel does begin to have doubts about this boy. When Rachel finally breaks up with Andy Beast, he gets angry and corners Melinda in a closet at school. When he attacks Melinda in the closet, she finally finds her voice. Other students come running and end the confrontation. Her story is now out in the open and Melinda is comforted by her understanding art teacher and begins to find heal and find her voice. I thought this book was scary and powerful. I just wanted to jump into the book and protect Melinda. This is a great example of contemporary realistic fiction. It is very possible for the events, plot, characters, and setting to happen in the real world.
This book could be used with grades 9-12.
A great resource for book talks, teacher guides, and lesson ideas can be found HERE!