A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Realistically depicts how a young teen girl might react to being sexually assaulted. It presents an opportunity to discuss bullying, harassment, and the therapeutic value of art.
It's possible to break the silence around sexual assault and speak the truth about perpetrators and their victims.
Positive Role Models
Melinda fights against the knowledge that she was raped and turns inward, keeping quiet at school and at home. Gradually, however, she's able to reclaim her sense of self and finds the strength to speak out before someone else becomes a victim.
Violence & Scariness
The scenes depicting the assault are expressionistic, showing Melinda's interpretation of the act rather than its reality. They include panels showing hands touching a girl's breasts and buttocks. Another encounter at the end of the book focuses on how Melinda is able to fight back. The buildup to both scenes is enough to insure that sensitive readers won't be taken by surprise.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Melinda says that the Merryweather cheerleaders sleep with the football players after the game, which may or may not be true.
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Mild swearing typical of teens, with one or two uses of "bitch," "bulls--t," "hell," and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Thirteen-year-old Melinda and her friends get drunk on beer at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Speak is a graphic novel adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, with art by Emily Carroll. It tells the story of 13-year-old Melinda, who was raped at an end-of-summer party and feels she can tell no one about it as she begins her freshman year.Two key scenes feature violence, but they are expressionistic, and most readers will be prepared for them. Swearing is mild and infrequent, with one or two instances each of "bitch," "hell," "damn," and "bulls--t." Sexual content is limited to innuendo about the school's cheerleaders. Underage teens drink beer and get drunk at a party.
Is It Any Good?
Treating a sensitive subject with grace, skill, and compassion, this often dark exploration of sexual assault and its aftermath does the issue justice. Originally a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and now adapted with art by Emily Carroll, Speak: The Graphic Novel captures the drama, drudgery, and absurdity of high school, without losing sight of the mental anguish that can be inflicted on vulnerable teens. Carroll's expressionistic black-and-white drawings reflect the perceptions of the protagonist, whose interior monologues drive the action of the plot. Speak makes clear that what happened to Melinda was not her fault and that she has the strength to confront her assailant and reclaim her sense of self. This graphic novel is especially relevant as a release amid the #MeToo movement.
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Our Editors Recommend
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