Melinda is starting the first day of the ninth grade as an outcast. No one will speak to her, but more than a few people will talk about her behind her back, or just loudly enough for her to hear their laughing. Her former friends have all found new cliques, and when Melinda walks into the cafeteria she’s greeted by a wad of mashed potatoes launched at her shirt. It all started at the party, and there is nothing to do but endure it. Melinda’s parents are mostly absent: they communicate via fridge post-its and the occasional lecture. Her teachers have either maliciously written her off as a troublemaker, or are so weird that there’s no hope of getting through to them. Melinda stops speaking, but will anyone notice or care?
Speak is a story about pain and isolation. Melinda, whose thoughts and experiences the reader knows, is deeply hurt, but in her world, she feels like she has no support. Her friends, parents and teachers have failed her or ignore her, and in her state she is unable to reach out. Speak involves both descent into depression and recovery—there is hope in this story, but also terrible events.