Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is first-personnarrative about overcoming our habits and misfortunes.
It takes place at Merryweather High over the course of a year. The main character, Melinda, is a fourteen year-old, who is just starting high school. She is introduced, at first, as someone who doesn’t speak to anyone, almost, at all. All the other people in the high school seem to detest her. They say hateful things to her and throw objects at her.
She seems not bothered by any of this. She is in her own being. As the story progresses clues to why people hate her so much are revealed. There is mentioning of a party that Melinda, some how, ruined. People say that they or someone they knew got in trouble at the party. Melinda wants to forget that party. She blocks it out of her head.
At every mention of that night Melinda cringes. Melinda doesn’t like school. She hates the people and despises the classes. All of the classes except art. She loves her art class. Their assignment for the year is to create a piece of art, depicting a given image, that makes a statement. Melinda’s object is a tree. She has trouble with the tree.
Melinda starts school off in a bad way. She continuously gets in trouble with numerous teachers. She never does any homework. She mostly takes naps. Worst of all, in her mind, she has no friends. This does not change until she meets Heather, the new girl.
Heather is a popularity obsessed girl from the South. She desperately wishes to fit in to one of the numerous cliques in school. Over the course of the year Melinda becomes more and more miserable. Heather forces her to be what she dosen’t want. Heather wants to be a part of a group of girls called The Marthas, a bunch of Martha Stewart wannabe’s who Melinda doesn’t like. Heather makes Melinda help her with ridiculous and impossible projects the Mathas assign Heather. Her parents are always on her grades.
Melinda could care less about her grades. At least, after that night she could. She, thankfully, finds sanctuary in an abandoned janitor’s closet she finds while cutting class. She remodels the rather large closet with posters and a couch for her to take her naps. The year continues on its dull, depressive track until AndyEvans comes back into the canvas that is Melinda’s life. Andy is revered by Melinda as the one who caused her to plummet into the void that is her most recent life. Melinda finally recalls the night of the party she hade been blocking out for almost a year now.
She still struggles with her tree. Andy lingers in her brain as Heather.