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by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak Theme of Friendship

Friendship is a tender and brutal thing in Speak. When Melinda loses all her friends at a party just before she starts high school due to a grave misunderstanding, she's forced to reevaluate the nature of friendship. It hurts to watch her heart get broken again and again by those she wants to be friends with. It also hurts to watch her close off from those who wish her well.  Over the course of the novel, though, she gradually finds ways to renew her old friendships and to make new ones.  She learns to see others with kinder eyes and to communicate with them in a healthy way. Speak celebrates friendship, while exploring its complex nature.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Why does Rachel turn her back on Melinda? Do you think she has any idea about what happened to Melinda at the party?
  2. Was Melinda's friendship with the Plane Janes shallow?
  3. How would you describe Melinda's friendship with Heather?
  4. Do you think Melinda and David will become better friends?
  5. Can Melinda be friends with her parents?
  6. Does Speak accurately portray high school friendships?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Melinda's love for Rachel motivates Melinda to talk about the rape.

David Petrakis acts like a true friend to Melinda.

Melinda's friendship with Mr. Freeman is the most important one in the book.

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