Speak is a painfully insightful and disturbing look into a teenage girl’s thoughts and experience as a freshman outsider in public high school. Anderson explores the cliques, atmosphere, politics, and the frightening reality of what can, and does happen in school; things parents, teachers, and school administrators are apparently oblivious to. Though a fictional character, in reality, Anderson’s 13-year-old protagonist could have been any number of girls I walked the halls with in my high school.
The author directly confronts social outcasts, depression, poor self-esteem, bullies, and rape. She uses frank talk and some swearing, but through it she brings a voice that is impossible to ignore. Speak is not a lighthearted or uplifting read, but it is a very validating one. This book is brilliant, and there certainly is an appropriate audience for Speak; it’s just not home-schooled students.