Study Guide

Speak Language and Communication

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Language and Communication

Chapter 1
Rachel Bruin

Her eyes meet mine for a second. "I hate you," [Rachel] mouths silently. (1.11)

This hurts, especially since Melinda and Rachel have been best friends since around kindergarten. Melinda never returns Rachel's hatred. In fact, love and care for Rachel motivate Melinda to talk about being raped.

Chapter 3

It is easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say. (3.13)

Melinda spends much of the book fighting to disprove this though. We think she succeeds What about you?

Chapter 21
The Marthas

Siobhan: "She's creepy. What's wrong with her lips? It looks like she's got a disease or something." (21.17)

Siobhan, apparently, isn't mean to Melinda because other kids don't like her, but because she doesn't like the way Melinda looks. By talking about Melinda right in front of her, she shows that she doesn't think Melinda is worthy of any respect.

Chapter 24
Melinda Sordino

Sometimes my mouth relaxes around Heather, if we're alone. Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze. What is wrong with me? (24.3)

Heather and Melinda's relationship is rocky, but this thought shows that Melinda is actually more comfortable with her than she admits in her snarkier moments. We can also see that some of Melinda's speech problems are involuntary, beyond her control.

Chapter 27
Melinda Sordino

He says a million things without saying a word. I make a note to study David Petrakis. I have never heard a more eloquent silence. (27.24)

Silence isn't all bad for Melinda. It's one of the things she's learning about her freshman year. She admires it a little <em>too</em> much at times, and David gives her lessons about that too. David knows when to use silence and when to speak up.

Chapter 36
Melinda Sordino

Maybe I'll be an artist when I grow up. (36.7)

People become artists for lots of different reasons. Art is a way to explore emotions and experience. Art shares ideas and opens conversations. Why do you think Melinda wants to be an artist?

Chapter 42
Andy Evans

"Freshmeat." That's what IT whispers. (42.3)

Andy wants Melinda to know that he's a predator. This terrifies and confuses her. She doesn't get how dangerous he is until he tries to rape her <em>again.</em>

Chapter 48
Melinda Sordino

I should probably tell someone, just tell someone. Get it over with. Let it out, blurt it out. (48.8)

Melinda never really stops <em>wanting</em> to talk. Half the time, she's not completely sure though. We aren't told exactly what she's afraid of. What are some negative repercussions she might be afraid of? What's the worst that could happen if she tells?

Chapter 70
Melinda Sordino

"Andy Evans will use you. He is not what he pretends to be. I heard he attacked a ninth grader. Be very, very careful." (70.6)

This is the first time Melinda tells anybody anything about Andy. It's dawning on her that she's not Andy's only victim. It takes Andy hanging out with Rachel for Melinda to imagine this. Why do you think Melinda writes an anonymous note?Ā  Is it because she feels safer being anonymous, or because she thinks Rachel would disregard the warning if she knew who it was from?

Chapter 76
Melinda Sordino

Mom calls me to remind me to drink lots of fluids. I say "Thank you," even though it hurts my throat. It's nice of her to call me. (76.1)

We like this moment, because Melinda and Mom are trying to communicate and are being considerate of one another.

Chapter 77
Mom and Dad (Melinda's Parents)

Dad: "That's a lot of work."


Dad: "I'll get some leaf bags from the store" (77.6-8)

We like this moment for the same reason. We can see how much Melinda makes their house a home. When Melinda cleans the yard, Dad takes it as a sign that she cares about the home and the family. This softens him and makes way for a better relationship.

Chapter 88
Melinda Sordino

"NNNOOO!!!" (88.16)

What Melinda says when Andy tries to rape her the second time. We can see how much she has grown because she refuses to be a silent victim anymore.