Narrative Voice In Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

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In Laurie Halse Anderson’s young adult novel Speak, we are presented with an immediately lovable, or at least relatable, young protagonist, Melinda, who is beginning her first year of high school. Mel is sarcastic, witty, and observant, constantly constructing metaphors for her world, referring to herself as a “wounded zebra” in the first few pages of the novel and giving the people around her funny nicknames like “Basketball Pole,” “Mr. Neck,” and “Principal Principal” (Anderson 5; passim). Mel’s humorous narrative voice is definitely something young readers would appreciate and identify with, and they might especially love the fact that she is constantly criticizing high school life, mentioning the “lies they tell you in high school,” and periodically counting down the days until graduation (5). This was perhaps the one thing I appreciated most in the novel, the fact that the narrative is constructed through such an intelligent, sarcastic lens. I actually laughed out loud when Mel says, “The closest we came to worship is the Trinity of…show more content…
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, 29% of sexual assault and rape victims are aged 12-17, and 44% are under 18 (“Who Are the Victims?”). This is unfortunately an issue facing many adolescents, and reading a novel like Speak may be difficult for some, especially victims. Melinda’s story of her assault unfolds slowly, revealing itself piece by piece. In the beginning, we only know that she is a victim of social shunning, the very bottom of stratified high school society. As the novel progresses, we learn of the events that occurred over the summer, the circumstances that led to her assault, and why she is hated by many of her peers. The fact that Mel must deal with torment from her peers as well as carry the weight of her assault make it so that she has difficulty saying much at

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