Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak. New York, New York: Penguin, 1999.

"I see IT in the hallway. IT goes to Merryweather. IT is walking with Aubrey Cheerleader. IT is my nightmare and I can't wake up. IT sees me. IT smiles and winks. Good thing my lips are stitched together or I'd throw up."

external image speak.jpgIn Speak, a book by Laurie Halse Anderson, a girl named Melinda struggles to find her voice while dealing with a serious event that has happened to her. Melinda is a girl who attends Merryweather High School, and someone who becomes ostracized by her classmates for calling the cops to the scene of a party she attended the summer before her freshman year of high school.. As the story unfolds, the reader is informed that something happened at that party which caused a need for the cops to arrive. Although none of the students know Melinda's side of they story, they continue to place blame on her and create her as a outcast within their high school. Speak, is a powerful book that is incredibly accurate about many aspects of high school, and creates as excellent tool to understanding the trials of a modern teenager.This book chronicles Melinda's journey through her first year of high school, and how she uses art as a medium to understand her feelings about what has happened to her. Through Melinda's new exposure to art, and helpful words from her art teacher Mr.Freeman, the reader becomes a silent observer to the exciting transformation of a young girl to a woman who has found a new voice to "speak." Anderson's sarcastic portrayal of high school, colorful palette of characters, and warm perception of artistic expression, makes this book an interesting and delightful read for people of all ages.

Recommendations for Teachers
Speak is an excellent book for teachers to use as a tool to understanding their students. This book can be used as an excellent platform for opinion papers and reflection journals, and can help students understand the deeper sociological issues which exist in society today. The topics covered in this novel are very important, and even if other more traditional texts are covered in your high school's curriculum, Speak is a good choice for an independent reading list. Speak, is also a book that explores the idea of artistic expression to understand emotions. Students could be assigned their own to artistic theme, like Melinda's tree, and be asked to develop reflective writing pieces, or art projects to assist in discovering their topic. This is also a book that many teenagers can relate to, and could be used to help establish a better understanding of themselves, the importance speech, and standing up for what you believe.

About Laurie Anderson

external image 6a00e5521774378833011168478b8c970c-320wiSpeak was Laurie's first famous book, and the one that earned her the attention of an agent. She wrote seven other books before this happened, including Ndito Runs, Turkey Pox, and No Time for Mother's Day. She was born October 23rd 1961 in Potsdam, in northern New York State. Laurie attended Onondaga Community College and worked at a dairy farm milking cows, and then transferred to Georgetown in 1981, graduating with a B.S.L.L. in Language and Linguistics in 1984. In 1985 she had a daughter, Stephanie, and in 1987 Meredith, her second daughter, was born. Laurie divorced and remarried, and her family has grown. She spent a lot of time traveling to schools and libraries (about 500,00 of them) after Speak became famous. Speak, first published in 1999, earned many awards, including being a National Book Award finalist, a Printz Honor Book, and making the New York Times bestseller list. Laurie also has two new books coming out, both dealing with history. The first is non-fiction, entitled Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution. It tells of 80 women and girls who helped the Patriots during the American Revolution, including a timeline. The second is called Chains, and it is a fictional story about a slave girl in New York in 1776, and covers the British Invasion of the city and all the complications of war. Laurie has also continued with Young Adult Literature and published a book called Prom and also one called Twisted, from the perspective of boys this time. Twisted was on the NY Times bestseller list, as well as being an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

Multimedia (Video or Audio)
"Speak" Trailer!

"Wintergirls", a new book by Laurie coming out in 2009

Additional Resources:
Here are some links to more information about Laurie Halse Anderson and her other books:

Laurie Anderson's Website: Laurie's Website with a biography, a list of her novels, a calendar, and the opportunity to contact her.
Speak Review A review of Laurie Anderson's book Speak.
Overview and Analysis Includes an overview, plot summary, analysis of each section, character profiles and much more!
Speak at Barnes and Noble Buy your copy of Speak today!
Teaching Speak Here you can find lesson plans and teaching ideas you can use to teach Speak, along with other Laurie Anderson books.
About Laurie Anderson Read about Laurie Anderson, watch a video interview with her and much more!
Biography and Reviews Read a little more about Laurie Anderson and read reviews about Speak, and some of her other well known books.
Types of Rape Learn about the many different types of rape, and information on rape prevention.
RAINN Website Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network's website to help prevent rape, and to help victims deal with it. There is also information on sending rapists to prison..
Rape Myths Some common misconceptions about rape.
Rape Information Get helpful information about what to do if you have been raped, know someone who has been raped, or if you want to help a rape survivor.

Deanna, Brooke, Jenny