Just before the start of her freshman year, Melinda attended a party and ended up having to call the police. The police showed up, broke up the party and everyone there is mad at Melinda. She becomes an outcast, retreating into herself and becoming a shadow of her former self. The only connection she feels to the outside world is in her art class, where she’s given the year-long project of creating art work around the theme of trees.
Of course, it’s easy to figure out early on that something more happened at the party to Malinda. And while the seeds are sewn early on as to what is could be, it doesn’t take away any of the impact when what happened to Malinda that fateful night is finally revealed. In fact, it makes it that much more horrifying as we’ve just spent so much time inside Melinda’s head, seeing how it’s eaten her up, made her withdraw from family and friends and left her a virtual outcast in her new high school.
“Speak” is a mature novel intended for teenage readers. The first-person perspective of Melinda is a fascinating one.