Book Review- “Speak” by Laurie Anderson

By Jake Erley

[Warning: there may be spoilers contained in this review]In my opinion, I found Speak to be very out of the ordinary. The story was told in the point of view of Melinda, the narrator and the main the character of the novel. She is a character that we learn about in depth. Melinda had a good clique before the end of summer party where she called the cops. However, we do not find out why until the end of the book. At the start of the school year, Melinda had no friends, her lips were quite odd, and she was not in the mindset for school. She struggled in school, averaging about a “D” in most of her classes. However, the one class that she excelled at was art. Melinda’s friend issue is fixed when a new girl comes to the school. They became friends and Melinda is content with her new friend Heather. However, they grow apart, merely because Melinda is “weird”. She was left with no friends, remaining an outcast and feeling different than the rest of her school.Personally, I like how the author made it seem like everything was against Melinda, and leaving the reader on the edge, by making Melinda seem very hated.The only person that seems to be friendly to her is David. David is an intelligent character and he tries his best to help Melinda. One notable thing that David did in the story was confront the teacher Mr. Neck for saying a Xenophobic statement. Additionally, David also told Melinda if she wants to fight for something she needs to be heard, like when she chose not to speak about her women’s rights project. Throughout the story we learn a lot of new aspects into Melinda’s character. For one, we find out why she is acting quite strange. It turns out that a boy named Andy had sexually assaulted her at the party, from the end of the summer, which explains why she called the cops. Once I found this out everything came together in the story, which I liked. The main theme seems to be the quite cliche “stand/ speak up for yourself”; however it’s not that simple. The real message is for women to stand up for themselves in a male dominated society particularly at a young age. I like this theme because not enough people stand up for themselves in today’s society.  There is also symbolism woven throughout, that is shown in many different ways. The tree that she creates for her art final symbolizes her growing into society as a young adult, Just like a tree grows. The book is titled “Speak” because Melinda, should “speak up” about what happened to her instead of letting Andy get away with what he did. Eventually, he is caught in the act of trying to sexually assault her again, and during that time she screamed to alert people of what was happening. This book was a solid read, and I think people can learn a lot from reading the book.

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