Study Guide

Speak Sadness

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Chapter 6
Melinda Sordino

I get out of my bed and take down the mirror. I put it back in my closet, facing the wall. (6.11)

Not being able to look at one's own face in the mirror is a sign of deep sadness.

Chapter 10
Melinda Sordino

My goal is to go home and take a nap. (10.10)

The more depressed Melinda gets, the more she needs to sleep. Paradoxically, the more depressed she gets, the harder it is to sleep at night when she's at home.

Chapter 21
Melinda Sordino

The salt from my tears feels good when it stings my lips. I wash my face until there is nothing left of it, no eyes, no nose, no mouth. A slick nothing. (21.20)

This is how Melinda feels after Siobhan Falls, a mean Martha, callously talks about Melinda's bitten lips like she's not even in the room.

Chapter 33
Melinda Sordino

I almost tell them right then and there. Tears flood my eyes. They've noticed I've been trying to draw. They notice. I try to swallow the snowballs in my throat. (33.9)

More tears – these tears seem a sign of happiness and sadness at the same time. Melinda is happy her parents are that aware of her and sad she can't express the truth of her heart to them.

Chapter 43
Melinda Sordino

She says suicide is for cowards. This is an uglynasty Momside. She bought a book about it. Tough love. Barbed velvet. Silent talk. (43.10)

Melinda thinks about Mom's reaction to the scratches Melinda makes on her wrists with a paperclip. Melinda isn't exactly suicidal. Mom is trying to find help for Melinda in books. Sadly, the books she reads don't help her recognize what Melinda is going through.

Chapter 45
Melinda Sordino

Mr. Freeman steps back, as if he has just seen something new in his own picture. He slices the canvas with my chisel, ruining it with a long, ripping sound that makes the entire class gasp. (45.6)

Mr. Freeman is happy and inspirational, but he also shows his own sadness, depression, and anger. It's not 100% clear why Mr. Freeman slashes his masterpiece, but Melinda appreciates that he shows his emotions dramatically in public.

Chapter 53
Melinda Sordino

It was the friendship necklace I had given Heather in a fit of insanity around Christmas. Stupid stupid stupid. How stupid could I be? I hear a cracking inside me, my ribs are collapsing in on my lungs, which is why I can't breathe. (53.11)

Heather's Valentine's Day meanness hit Melinda very hard. This is partly because she's convinced herself the envelope taped to her locker is a real valentine, either from a friend who wants to make up or David Petrakis, her lab partner.

Chapter 54
Melinda Sordino

I stumble down the hall […] till I find my very own door and slop inside and throw the lock, not even bothering to turn on the lights, just falling falling a mile downhill to the bottom of my brown chair, where I can sink my teeth into […] my wrist and cry like the baby I am. (54.11)

This is Melinda after she gets the horrible we're-not-friends Valentine from Heather. Melinda stays true to her pattern. When she's sad she isolates herself and inflicts pain on herself.

Chapter 85
Melinda Sordino

It's like smelling the perfect Christmas feast and having the door slammed in your face, leaving you there in the cold. (85.1)

This is Melinda after she tells Rachel that Andy raped her and Rachel doesn't believe her. Melinda thought she'd feel so much better after telling Rachel, but Rachel doesn't react the way Melinda wants. Still, Melinda sounds slightly less sad than normal here as if telling does give her some relief.

Chapter 88
Melinda Sordino

[…] WHAMMO! – a thought slams into my head: I don't want to hang out in my little hidy-hole anymore. (88.1)

Here, near the end of the novel, we see Melinda waking up, moving away from sadness. Sadness is a useful emotion for her, but she's ready to feel it less than she has been.