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Speak

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the tough, tender, and darkly funny story of a teenage outcast. This teenager is Melinda Sordino. Over the past summer, Melinda had gone though a tragic situation at a summer party that caused her to go completely mute. This incident was rape. At the summer party, Melinda called the cops and now her "friends" won't talk to her and people hate the sight of her. Throughout the book, Anderson shows how Melinda wants to break out of her shell. She constantly talks about re-planting herself and growing again, with a new start. With this re-growth process, Melinda learns to cut off the part of her that died over the summer and let them grow back before it kills all of her. Along with this, Melinda's year-long art project is to create a tree filled with emotion and feeling. Over the year, Melinda starts to regain confidence in herself and starts reconnecting herself with her old friends. The development of her tree artwork mirrors her gradual regrowth. When her former best friend Rachel starts dating Andy Evans, Melinda works up the courage to tell her ex-best friend to stay away from him. Soon enough, Melinda has spread the story of her rape around the whole school. At the end of the novel, Andy Evans confronts her, attempting to rape her again, but this time, Melinda finds strength to prevent him from doing so. "I SAID NO!" she yells, threatening Andy with a shard of glass against his neck. Soon, the Women's Lacrosse team break into the room she's in and show Andy what he's made of. After the truth comes out, Melinda is not considered an outcast; but more of a hero. In this New York Times and Publisher's Weekly bestseller, Anderson perfectly captures the harsh conformity of high-school cliques and teenage struggle to find acceptance.