is the main character and narrator of Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson is an American author who writes for children and young adults.-Career:...
's 1999 novel
The year 1999 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*June 19 - Stephen King is hit by a Dodge van while taking a walk. He spends the next three weeks hospitalized...
Speak is a 1999 novel by Laurie Halse Anderson about a girl named Melinda Sordino who is an outcast as a high school freshman. It was made into a film of the same name in 2004. The novel was a New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller...
. Her last name, Sordino
Sordino, with alternative forms sordono and sordun, etc., is an Italian term somewhat promiscuously applied by various writers:#to contrivances for damping or muting wind, string and percussion instruments ;...
, is an Italian
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...
word that can be translated as "mute" or "deaf."
Going into ninth grade
Ninth grade is the ninth post-kindergarten year of school education in some school systems. The students are 13 to 15 years of age, depending on when their birthday occurs. Depending on the school district, ninth grade is usually the first year of high school....
at her new high school, Melinda "Mel" Sordino goes to a party with three other friends and is raped by a senior, Andy Evans. This abuse forces her into silence and drastically changes her life and social structure; in fact, for most of the novel, she refers to Andy only as IT.
She finds solace in her art class, where she has a year long assignment of drawing a tree which plays a major role in her life. Throughout the year she slowly creates a hidden room for herself in an old janitor's closet, which acts as her safe haven, and is the setting for the climactic ending of the novel.
Throughout the year, several minor events led up to her admitting she was raped. These events include her parents giving her art supplies showing that they care, her only friend Heather leaving her and saying she needs therapy, seeing things written about Andy on the bathroom wall and cutting school the next day.
For the majority of the novel, she refuses to admit to herself that she was raped, a fact that makes it hard for Melinda to heal and continue with her life. Melinda attempts to confide in her ex-friend Rachel, but she doesn't believe her. Only when Andy angrily confronts her about talking to Rachel and attempts to rape her again does Melinda fight back and break her silence.
Melinda is the first person narrator of Speak
. She is very observant and notices every small detail. Her abuse has made her cynical, though she is very secretive about it. The cliques and social groups (or "clans") at her school disgust her, a fact which she makes well known through her narration.
At times her voice seems to be just a stream of consciousness, having little or no start nor end. The sentence structure is often short and choppy, representing how Melinda is feeling at the moment.
Melinda's physical appearance is rarely described, except in the context of what clothing she is wearing and how her lips are chapped. It is also mentioned she has black eyebrows and "muddy" brown eyes. Her mother buys her clothing, which she dislikes, and her lips are always bloody and dry from the fact that she bites them when she sees Andy Evans, or when something bad happens to her. It is mentioned in "Winter Break" that she is not extremely pretty, which shows that Melinda is just an average looking girl. In the chapter "Hall of Mirrors", it is told that Melinda wears a size ten pants. It also mentions she has auburn hair in chapter thirteen.
In other media
In Anderson's 2002 novel Catalyst
Catalyst is a 2002 novel by Laurie Halse Anderson about a senior named Kate Malone. It can be regarded as a sequel to Speak, as it has the same setting in Merryweather High School and a cameo appearance by Melinda Sordino , and it takes place a year after the events in Speak...
, Melinda appears for a few pages, now in tenth grade. When a fellow student has a mental breakdown, she counsels her and helps her through the rough patch. It is stated that Melinda’s rapist, Andy, is found guilty but does not go to jail; instead, he is sentenced to probation
Probation literally means testing of behaviour or abilities. In a legal sense, an offender on probation is ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the court, often under the supervision of a probation officer...
and has to register as a sex offender
A sex offender is a person who has committed a sex crime. What constitutes a sex crime differs by culture and by legal jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions compile their laws into sections such as traffic, assault, sexual, etc. The majority of convicted sex offenders have convictions for crimes of a...
. In the 10th anniversary edition of Speak, Anderson explained that she was seriously considering making a sequel, but could not think of a basic plot, citing that sequels are usually meant to build on a previous film's popularity, using Jaws: The Revenge
Jaws: The Revenge, Also known as, 'Jaws 4: The Revenge', is a 1987 thriller film directed by Joseph Sargent. It is the third sequel to Steven Spielberg's Jaws and the final installment of the series....
as an example.
She is portrayed by Kristen Stewart
Kristen Jaymes Stewart is an American actress. She is best known for playing Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga. She has also starred in films including Panic Room , Zathura , In the Land of Women , The Messengers , Adventureland and The Runaways .- Early life :Stewart was born and raised in Los...
in the 2004 film adaptation
Speak is a 2004 American independent film based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Laurie Halse Anderson. It stars a then 13-year-old Kristen Stewart as Melinda Sordino, a high school freshman who practically stops talking after being raped by a senior student. The film is told through...