Book review by Norah Caroline Piehl, Common Sense Media
Speak Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 14+

Controversial book about rape is powerful and painful.

Parents say

age 13+

Based on 27 reviews

Kids say

age 13+

Based on 150 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Word choices

This book is pretty negative. There are very few redeeming characters. The main character has been raped and that frames her narrative. The words 'spaz' and 'retarded' are used more than once and it feels like lazy writing.
1 person found this helpful.
age 12+

boring with no new messege

The book “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson had its ups and downs. Anderson’s did an excellent job with making the language simple, as most teenagers would like. She also succeeded with the moral of the story, it served a great importance. Rape is a sensitive content to the author since it also happened to her when she was a teenager, and it was inspiring that she portrayed it to a story. As Melinda, the main character felt like an outcast, she couldn’t help but go through depression, anxiety, and loss of hope; That’s where the downfall in my opinion was. The author wanted teenagers to read it in order to raise awareness, but I feel like it also tried to say that throughout everything that brings you down, you will go through wild pain. I felt like if the character was stronger it would’ve motivated teenagers to be like the character. If the character didn’t lose hope and tried pushing forward it would’ve had a greater moral. At the end of the book, the character speaks up for herself, which is the highlight of the book, but I still think she went through so much sensitive content that teenagers shouldn’t be thinking about it. In my opinion, the book was stereotypical, Melinda was shy, weak and quite, something happens to her, she changes. What if a strong person goes through something tough? Maybe that would’ve been different. There are some points of the book were the readers wanted her to be defensive, as kids were laughing at her, it was a need for her to respond, but she didn’t. On the other hand, the character should go through a dark time after what happened, although I feel like she didn’t persevere through it as much as readers wanted to see happen. This book explained highschool the wrong way, it makes parents worried about their children. Most high schools don’t really care about how you look, everyone studies and go home, in my opinion, it was a little exaggerated and unrealistic. In conclusion, it felt like it didn’t introduce new concepts, I didn’t find it succeeding at the originality part. It was a very negative book although it ended in a positive way. Some teenagers will use this book as a tool to cope with being raped, and the fact that the book is dark and the main hcarecter tried cutting herself, portrays a bad messege. In addition, the teachers, counselors, the students were very underrated, not labeled correctly, as the book should prove that there’s always someone to talk to, someone to help you, and not because someone raped you, everyone is bad. Furthermore, the book was pretty boring and slow at times which made some readers stop reading it. Lastly, I would rather read a story that has a bigger plot-line, and less about the unrealistic darkness of high school.
1 person found this helpful.

Book Details

  • Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • Publication date: January 1, 1999
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
  • Number of pages: 198
  • Last updated: April 12, 2019

Our Editors Recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age books and stories that deal with consent

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