Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson has been on my “to read” list for quite a while. Published in 1999, this award-winning novel is by no means a new release! This story will appeal to those who enjoy realistic teen fiction, specifically those books like The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Matthieu and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
In Speak, Melinda (who will be entering 9th grade) attends a before-school party where she drinks a little too much alcohol and is raped by a soon-to-be senior. She is scared, confused, and hurt and calls 911 but ends up running home. Everyone at the party knows she called the police and several students are arrested. (No one knows she was raped.) Melinda begins high school as a complete outcast, even abandoned by her “best” friends. She spends her 9th grade year withdrawn and rarely speaks, especially to adults. Her ex-best friend begins to date her rapist, and Melinda must find a way to tell her friend. Though the story is sad and dark, the novel ends hopeful for Melinda.
Other recommended novels by Laurie Halse Anderson include Wintergirls (eating disorders) and Fever 1793 (historic fiction/plague).