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by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak Theme of Transformation

Coming-of-age novels go hand in hand with the theme of transformation. Melinda Sordino, fourteen-year-old high school freshman, is drastically transformed when she's raped by high school senior Andy Evans. She becomes silent and secretive; she becomes distrustful of people and terrified of being alone with a boy. Speak follows Melinda through her freshman year. We watch as she struggles to change back into the girl she used to be, while becoming someone newer and stronger. Her positive transformations come about through art, learning, listening, and speaking. They come about through intense contemplation on Melinda's part and through her willingness to draw on everything around her for the answers she needs.

Questions About Transformation

  1. What are some of Melinda's important changes?
  2. How does Melinda change physically in the novel? Why are her physical changes important?
  3. Do Melinda's feelings on the human race change throughout the novel? If so, can you give some examples? If not, how does her vision stay the same?
  4. Why does Melinda feel that "Having jeans that fit" (59.8) is a good first step toward recovery?
  5. What do you think Melinda was like before she was raped? What hints does the novel offer us?
  6. Why do trees and seeds become so important to Melinda?

Chew on This

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

At the end of the novel, Melinda learns to reclaim the innocence she thought she lost when Andy raped her.

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