Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
TEEN BOOK CLUB KIT
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning, highly acclaimed, and controversial novel about a teenager who chooses not to speak rather than to give voice to what really happened to her marks ten years in print with this special anniversary edition. This title is recommended for ages 9 and up.
Genre: Rape, Emotional Problems
2000 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
2000 National Book Award Finalist
5 Copies of Speak
1 Audio Book Copy of Speak (4 CDs)
1 Discussion Guide. This discussion guide contains discussion questions, activities and other information to foster discussion of this book. You will also find information on starting and running a book club, and other information. You may make copies of any of these materials. Please do not write on these materials and return all pages, books, and contents of this kit.
If you liked Speak, you might like these books:
TEEN FICTION DES
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
TEEN FICTION FRE
The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks
TEEN FICTION HOP
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
TEEN FICTION CHB
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
TEEN FICTION AND
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak Discussion Questions
These questions have no right or wrong answers. Just think about and respond thoughtfully. Please share your own group’s discussion questions and comments by emailing email@example.com. Be sure to check the library’s teen pages at www.btpl.org for additional questions and comments from other book groups.
Questions provided by Puffin Publishing.
1. Discuss the title of the novel and its significance. What roles do silence and truth play in the story?
2. Is there a relationship between speaking and listening? Can one exist without the other?
3. What is friendship? Describe the important elements of Melinda’s relationships with Heather, Ivy, Nicole, and Rachel. Is she ever really friends with any of them? Can friendship mean something different to different people? Cite different passages in the novel as evidence of your opinion.
4. Melinda says: “It is easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say.” Do you agree with her? Why or why not? Do the events in the novel support or negate her statement? Does her outlook change at any point in the novel? How so?
5. What keeps Melinda silent? What is she afraid of?
6. Discuss the social hierarchy of Merryweather High. What role does the concept of identity play in the novel? Why is belonging to one of the many clans so important to Heather and so unimportant to Melinda?
7. Why does Melinda isolate herself from her friends? Is she justified in doing so?
8. Melinda nicknames many of the other characters throughout the novel. Discuss the significance of this habit and how it contributes to the development of the story and your experience as a reader.
9. Why do you think Melinda refers to Andy Evans as “it” in the beginning of the novel?
10. At what point does she start to call him by name? Why?
11. In what places is Melinda able to find sanctuary at school? How do the characteristics of these places provide a window into her character?
12. What does Melinda learn in Art class? What does the tree she spends the year creating finally come to symbolize?
13. How does David Petrakis contribute to Melinda’s quest to find her voice? How does Mr. Freeman influence her? What role do her parents and the other adults in the novel play in Melinda’s journey?
14. Despite her internal sense of humor, Melinda seems depressed to the outside world. In what ways is her depression evident? How do the people around her react to her behavior? Do you think they respond appropriately? How would you respond?
15. What role does rumor play in the story? Discuss how rumors and truth can be connected. Is one more powerful than the other?
16. Reflect on Melinda and Rachel’s written conversation they have in the library. Discuss Rachel’s reaction to what Melinda tells her. Why do you think she behaves as she does? Does she believe Melinda?
17. How does nature manifest itself in the story line and contribute to meaning?
18. Discuss how the changing of the seasons could be argued to mirror Melinda’s ability to speak.
19. Is it possible to speak without spoken words? Why or why not? Identify passages in the novel to support your position.
20. Discuss the ending of the book and the relevance of the last scene.
21. What finally allows Melinda to speak?