A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
What's the story?
Having called the police at an end-of-summer party, Melinda finds herself an outcast as she starts her freshman year at Merryweather High at the beginning of SPEAK: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. Her former best friend won't talk with her, the teachers seem to deliberately misunderstand her, and she's bullied and harassed by her schoolmates. What no one except Melinda knows is that she was raped by an upperclassman. Unable to speak the truth about the assault, Melinda tries to keep quiet, growing more depressed and alienated from her parents, her teachers, and her fellow students. What will it take for her to shout a warning to those who need to hear it most?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Speak depicts the aftermath of a young teen's rape by an older high school student. What kinds of assistance do victims of sexual assault need? What might prevent them from getting the help they need?
How does art help people deal with their emotions and express their feelings?
Melinda thinks no one will believe her about the assault. Why are victims sometimes reluctant to go to the police and press charges?
- Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
- Illustrator: Emily Carroll
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date: February 6, 2018
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love graphic novels and stories about the importance of consent
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.