Laurie Halse Anderson's young adult novel Speak explores the trauma of a new high school student bearing more than the average burdens of adolescence. Melinda Sordino begins the fall term with a distinct self-loathing, conveyed by badly bitten lips and an avoidance of the mirror. Her status as an outcast directly pertains to a phone call she made to the police during a summer party, ostensibly to complain about the drinking. Now even her former best friend ostracizes her. With a set of parents who have their own troubles, Melinda does not know where to turn. Relief comes with the blossoming of a new friendship and the revival of an old one, along with the encouragement of the art teacher, who helps Melinda to express her feelings through her artwork. As Melinda struggles with issues of trust and identity, the reader begins to slowly unravel the deep, tragic secret that has rendered Melinda silent, which catapults Speak into a chilling climax. Critically acclaimed, Anderson’s novel provides a touching insight to the lost soul of a young girl, whose strength grows as she finds the courage to rediscover her voice. Speak is geared to readers ages 12 and up.