Study Guide

Heather in Speak

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Heather is from Ohio and is the new kid in town. She's extremely driven; so driven, in fact, that she wants to join a club for every day of the week. She wants to be part of her new community, but is finding it very difficult to break in to the new social scene. She and Melinda strike up an awkward friendship on the first day of school. In Melinda's section, we talk about how the pressure Melinda is under reveals some positive aspects of her character. In the case of Heather and Melinda's relationship, the pressure brings out the worst in both of them.

Melinda, it seems, is often using Heather because she has nobody else. Her mind, we suspect, is on her old friends, the people she's grown up with. Heather doesn't seem to be using Melinda at first, but she isn't treating Melinda like a real friend either. She doesn't try to find out from Melinda why everybody is mad at her, or why Melinda is having a hard time. At the same time, Melinda never even considers confiding in Heather and just takes her for granted. This increases the distance between them.

Yet, Melinda is willing to try to salvage the friendship while Heather is not. And Heather is downright mean about it too, though it's hard to say whether she knows the impact of her actions. Yeah, we're talking about the way Heather gives Melinda back her friendship necklace on Valentine's Day inside a Valentine's Day card.

It's what Heather does a little later on, though, that puts the icing on her character cake. She comes over to Melinda's house for the specific purpose of conning Melinda into helping her decorate the prom ballroom for the Marthas. The nerve! This action shows that Heather is either really insensitive, or that she deliberately tries to exploit what she sees as Melinda's loneliness and friendlessness. Or does it show something else? You tell us.

Heather's action also reveals something about Melinda. Melinda says "no" to Heather's manipulations (and Heather responds with angry shock). We've watched Melinda struggle to say "no" throughout the book, so this moment marks a big turning point for her.

Heather is probably moving out of Syracuse, but if she stays, can she and Melinda be friends? Why or why not? Does Heather become corrupted by the sick scene at Merryweather High, or has she always been somewhat mean and shallow?