Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. Harrisonburg, VA: RR Donnelley & Sons Company
Miranda Sordino is an incoming freshman at Merryweather High School, but she's having a bad start. She's the subject of bullying, is called a "squealer," an outcast, and a social pariah. She'd love to talk to her friend Rachel about it, but she's disowned her too. Her first day of class, she loses her way and gets in trouble, she doesn't think much of her teachers or classes, except for art, and she eats lunch alone in the cafeteria. Also on the first day, she get food thrown at her and she runs away. When she's asked why she's leaving the cafeteria, she doesn't say a word, so she gets in trouble. Miranda finds herself in these conditions because she was raped at the end-of-the-summer eighth grade party and called the police. Nobody likes her much because of that. Dealing with feelings of guilt, blame, and isolation, Miranda retreats into a closed at school. She also does this at home where she muffles her screams by putting clothes into her mouth. It isn't until her art teacher gives her an assignment of portraying a tree through art, that she learns to deal with these feelings and emotions. In history, she does a report on women suffrage and decides to not presented because that's her right. Her teacher tells her that women suffrage is about speaking up for your rights instead of being silent. Miranda decides to tell her friend Rachel, who is now dating Andy (the rapist), and Rachel dismisses it as false - until he tries to dance with her inappropriately at prom. Andy and Miranda have one last encounter when Miranda is cleaning up the close where she stays at school. Andy tries to rape her again, blaming her for his falling out with Rachel, but this time, Miranda defends herself and speaks up. She finishes her tree project and finally opens up to her art teacher.
Anderson's piece deals with sensitive topics, emotions, and psychological issues that plague rape victims. Miranda was a little drunk at the party when she was raped, and she battles feelings of guilt and blame. Because of these Miranda secludes herself and almost detaches herself completely from having any social life in school. Many girls struggle with these same issues at this young age. Unfortunately rape is still something that makes girls and women be silent about their struggles and healing process. This book has helped many girls overcome such battles.
TeachingBooks.net has book guides, resources, vocabulary lists, and author interviews and blogs that accompany this book. In addition, Andrea Hipsher and Erin McCrory from Kennesaw State University have a blog dedicated to this novel, lesson plans, projects, novel summaries, etc.
In 2004, Speak debuted as a motion picture featuring Kirsten Stewart and Elizabeth Perkins.
Requirement: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Book cover images from Amazon.com
Speak Trailer uploaded to YouTube by ksrocks333 on Sept. 12, 2007