Thursday, October 14, 2010

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is about a young teenage girl, Melinda Sordino, who is a new freshman to Merryweather High School. From the first day of school, she knows that she's an outcast. She had ruined an end-of-summer party by calling the police so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. Due to the effects of the party, she had a difficult time speaking with people, seeming mute.

Throughout the book, she talks about her high school life and struggling to make friends. There are also flashbacks going back to the night of the party and the tortures she went through. Because of this trauma, her grades are lower than expected; she used to be a straight-B student. The only thing in school that keeps her somewhat happy is Mr. Freeman's art class and frankly,it's also the only class she can pull an A in.

However, when Melinda has an uncomfortable confrontation she decides that she can't be silent anymore and that she has to speak the truth (hence the title Speak). She has to tell her version of the story, starting with the end-of-summer party. Even if she believes that it will not benefit her, it may save many other naïve peers.

I thought that this book was a very powerful novel. Seeing how depressing her life was and the bullying she faced showed me what many high school students go through today. Yet, no one ever notices because, like Melinda, they don't speak up.

There were many significant parts to the plot line that I couldn't talk about because it would obviously ruin the novel. So if you want to know what happens, you're going to have to read it for yourself.

Discussion Questions

1) Based on the description, what do you think happened at the party? Why do you think Melinda can't openly discuss this with her peers?

2)How do you think Melinda's story relates to reality?

8 comments:

Heather B. 1-2 said...

Discussion Questions
1.) In high school, there are many struggles people go through to fit in. If the party got out of control due to drugs and/or alcohol and Melinda called the police to prevent anything horrible from happening, then her peers may not respect her for getting them in trouble, even though she did the right thing.

2.) Teenagers often do not like to speak up against what is wrong, because, to their peers, they would be considered the "bad guy." Melinda suffered the after effects of doing something right that her peers considered wrong. It is sadly something that has happened before and will almost undoubtedly happen again.

Abby M. 1-2 said...

1. The fact that Melinda is bullied often in the novel after she called the police suggests that she may have called the police in the first place because she was being mistreated severely when she was at the party. Alchohol or drugs may have been involved, as these can be common at high school parties, and may have driven the situation out of control. Perhaps Melinda was being severely bullied or even assulted, or someone else at the party was. In any case,Sarah descibes some of Melinda's experiences that night as "torturous" so I can only imagine what she went through.

2. Melinda's story is a prime example of the brutality of bullying. The title Speak is fitting beacuse victims of bullying are often those who are too afraid to stand up for themselves, or speak for themselves. Bullies target these kinds of people because they know hat they are never going to fight back. Bullying is all too common in our world today. The book is an inspiring example of someone who stood up against the crowd and spoke, something that teens today hopefully have the strength to do.

Sara D. 7-8 said...

Heather: The way you answered question two accurately describes what happened in the novel. But I have another question for you. You said, "Melinda suffered the after effects of doing something right that her peers considered wrong." Why do you think people think like this nowadays? Why does wrong seem right and vice versa?

Sara D. 7-8 said...

Abby: In reality, I think teens today still would not speak up, otherwise they fear that the brutality will become even more severe. For question one, you perception correct. You took my description of the incident as "torturous" just like I meant it to be.Your statement,"Perhaps Melinda was being severely bullied or even assulted, or someone else at the party was" lead me to believe your comprehension just the way it was meant to be perceived.

Anna W. 1-2 said...

Discussion Questions:

1.Based on what you typically hear happen at high school parties, I assume alcohol and drugs were involved in this party that happened in the novel. However, I believe maybe there was some unwanted physical or sexual assault happening between her and her friends or possibly a boyfriend. I believe this, because it would be hard to confront an adult about what happened if it was someone who you once trusted. If Melinda was a victim of abuse at the party it would be especially hard, because she may feel it was her fault and her reputation will be affected if she is labeled as the person who “broke” up the party.

2.This relates to reality, because sometimes the truth is hard to accept. Many people would rather not believe in something so tragically to cover up the hurt. It is especially hard in this day for teenagers to stand up and not get involved in illegal activities. Melinda probably feels it was her fault that she called the police on the party and would like to leave it at that. She doesn’t want to get any of her peers in more trouble, because this could potentially lead into criticism or bullying if it didn’t already. Unfortunately, we hear about these situations all the time and people are to afraid to speak up in difficult topics, since they don’t want to believe it happened to them. However, they are not helping themselves or any other person when they don’t speak up about an illegal act that has happened to them or another person. Mostly they are more worried about what will happen to everything else instead of them. This is what Melinda probably felt. Melinda and others need to learn the importance of speaking up, because it could save another person for domestic violence or crime. We also need to encourage people that it is never the victims fault. This would help more people, like Melinda to report abuse, crime, or any other illegal actions.

Andrew C 7-8 said...

I think this party could have been any party from any high school across the United States. It only takes one person to do something that starts a chain reaction that could harm others at the party. I think something serious happened to Melinda and that her instincts for survival kicked in and prompted her to call the police. (Perhaps something that happened at her old school triggered her reaction?)

Amanda Futkos said...

1. i assume something wrong obviously was being done in order for melinda to call the police in the first place such as drugs, alcohol, or a fight. I think today in this society everyone has the urge to fit in and be "popular" teenagers usually just want to have a good time, and rebel and look cool to other peers so i think when someone tries to do the right thing it is looked down upon these days.

2.Melindas story relates to bullying in society and peer pressure, melinda seems to be excluded after the party and looked down upon by others that dont even know her.

Josh L 1/2 said...

I think Melinda's story relates to reality because in high school you dont want to be known as the party pooper or the snitch so you just kind of go with the flow on things that you personally dont agree with.