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Award-winning contempary YA novel written in 1999 by Laurie Halse Anderson, an author famous for writing books of this sort. The book has been the source of some vocal Moral Guardians over the years due to some of its subject matter.

The book centers around a teenager named Melinda Sordino, who's just entered the 9th grade. She's not exactly the most popular kid in school, due almost entirely to her calling the police at a Wild Teen Party last summer.

After the events of said party, Melinda goes from a bright, outgoing, friendly teenager to a bitter, angry, depressed one. Her grades go down the toilet, her parents are alarmed, and Melinda can't find the words to tell anyone what really happened; eventually, she stops speaking almost entirely. The plot mostly centers around Melinda's gradual decline, up until The Reveal, and then her gradual climb out of the hole.

The Film of the Book was released in 2004, starring a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart in the lead role.

Tropes used in Speak include:


  • Attempted Rape: Andy Evans tries to rape Melinda in her broom closet at the climax.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sure, Melinda saved herself from Attempted Rape by scaring the daylights out of Andy Evans and holding a piece of glass to his throat, but we can't forget about the entire girls' field hockey team who broke down the door with their field hockey sticks when they heard a commotion.
  • Broken Bird: Melinda
  • Cassandra Truth: When Melinda tells Rachel what happened to her.
  • Cool Teacher: Mr Freeman.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Despite the fact that she's in the throes of depression, Melinda is this trope incarnate.
  • Dull Surprise: For good or ill, Kristen Stewart shines in this role.
  • Eating Lunch Alone
  • The Eeyore: Melinda.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A very subtle example: Melinda becomes attached to a poster of Maya Angelou. Maya was raped as a young girl. It's also a stealth reference to Angelou's novel, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
    • There's quite a bit of subtle foreshadowing, but it can be hard to spot until you've read the book once, like the turkey bone art.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Melinda and Rachel
  • Genki Girl: Heather
  • Handsome Lech: A very dark example with Andy Evans. From what the bathroom graffti saying, he basically feels up anything with two X chromosomes. He also raped Melinda.
  • Hippie Teacher: Mr. Freeman.
  • It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It: Andy Evans pulls on her in The Climax, right before trying to rape her again.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr Neck is a complete dick for most of the story and treats his students with absolute contempt and sadism. But he is mostly pissed because he feels his son is being overlooked. There is also the end when he seems genuinely concerned for Melinda's well-being after making her life a misery.
  • Kick the Dog: Heather's "Thanks for letting me move on to more popular friends!" Valentine. What's worse is that Melinda thought it was a genuine one. Ouch.
    • There is also Andy making crude remarks towards Melinda in the hallway. To most people, it looks like him being a Jerk Jock. But knowing what what he did...
  • Lethal Chef: Melinda's father is implied to be one, based on the disaster with the turkey.
  • Loners Are Freaks: The reason Melinda is spurned, other than the police-calling.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Melinda's last name, "Sordino", can be interpreted in various ways to mean "mute".
    • Not to mention Mr. Freeman. We shouldn't even have to explain that one.
  • Motor Mouth: Heather.
  • Nice Guy: Dave.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr Neck, a complete and utter bastard for the entire story, showing genuine concern for Melinda, whom he treated terriby, at the end and calling her by her first name
  • Politically-Motivated Teacher: Mr. Neck
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Melinda.
  • The Reveal: Melinda was raped at the party, which was why she called the police.
  • Self -Harm: One scene in the book features Melinda scratching herself with a paperclip until she bleeds.
  • The Snark Knight: Melinda. In fact, she pretty much is the former trope namer Played for Drama with a Freudian Excuse.
  • Silent Snarker: Melinda, given how she rarely speaks but her sarcastic side shines through all the time during her descriptions.
  • Stern Teacher: Mr. Neck.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Jesus. Melinda's classmates. Heather jumping ship on her. Those kids at the pep rally. Andy
  • Valley Girl: Heather.
  • The Voiceless: The focus of the book is Melinda growing out of this.
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