Study Guide

Speak Friendship

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Chapter 1
Melinda Sordino

If there is anyone in this entire galaxy I am dying to tell what happened, It's Rachel. My throat burns. (1.10)

This early moment shows how much Melinda values her friendship with Rachel. We also see the start of Melinda's sore throat. It seems like Melinda is <em>burning</em> to speak, but can't manage it. Or maybe her case of nerves is making acid in her stomach, which burns her throat.

There is no point in looking for my ex-friends. Our clan, the Plain Janes, has been splintered and the pieces are being absorbed by rival factions. (1.9)

At first, it sounds like Melinda has just drifted away from her old friends. We soon learn there's more to it. In terms of Ivy and Nicole, this might actually be the case.

Chapter 3
Melinda Sordino

Think fast, think fast. That's the new girl, Heather, reading by the window. I could sit across from her. Or I could crawl behind a trash can. (3.4)

Melinda's not exactly bubbling over with enthusiasm to hang with Heather. The party where she lost all her friends happened no more than a month ago. She's still concerned with her old friendships. Heather gets caught in this crossfire.

I see a few friends—people I used to think were my friends—but they look away. (3.4)

Aha! Melinda is definitely on lots of people's bad sides. <em>Speak</em> is very much a book about struggling to make, find, keep, and honor friends. This quote shows how hard that can be.

Chapter 9
Melinda Sordino

Rachelle blows a candy cigarette smoke ring at my face. Blows me off. I have been dropped like a hot Pop Tart on a cold kitchen floor. (9.14)

Rachel spends most of the novel experimenting with different personas. She's changed her name to Rachelle and hangs out with foreign exchange students. This strikes us as a good thing – except for the fact that she's becoming less sensitive to others.

Chapter 63
David Petrakis

"Come on Mel. You gotta come with us! My dad told me to bring anyone I wanted. We can give you a ride home after if you want. It'll be fun. You do remember fun, don't you?" (63.7)

David seems to really, really like Melinda as a friend…or more. The fact that she was raped by a high school boy who she thought was OK makes her think twice about even the most innocent sounding situations.

Chapter 69
Melinda Sordino

She is not any part of a pretend Rachelle-chick. I can only see third grade Rachel who liked barbeque potato chips and who braided pink […] thread into my hair that I wore for months until my mom made me take it out. (69.6)

Melinda never stops caring about Rachel. Remembering Rachel as a much younger girl makes Melinda realize how vulnerable she is to Andy.

Chapter 84

Someone touches my arm gently. "Melinda?" It's Ivy. "Can you take the late bus? I want to show you something." (84.2)

That Ivy touches Melinda's arm "gently" tells us a lot about the friendship they are developing. Melinda has confided in Ivy very subtly. It's likely Ivy guesses she was attacked by Andy and is considering this when she touches her.

Chapter 89
Melinda Sordino

Mom took me to the hospital to stitch up the cut on my hand. When we got home, there was a message on the machine from Rachel. She wants me to call her. (89.4)

Knowing how Melinda feels about Rachel, her message probably means everything to Melinda.


"You don't like anything. You are the most depressed person I've ever met, and excuse me for saying this, but you are no fun to be around and I think you need professional help."

There's truth in what Heather says, but we wish she could have directed Melinda to some of that professional help and tried to stay her friend. Why do you think she doesn't do these things?