Study Guide

Speak Chapter 1

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Chapter 1

Welcome to Merryweather High

  • The narrator, whose name we'll learn in a bit, has an upset stomach. It's her first day at Merryweather High.
  • She decides to sit at the front of the school bus. This way she can see if any of her friends have decided to stop giving her the silent treatment.
  • Kids she knows from middle school give her dirty looks when they get on the bus.
  • This is what she was afraid of. Nobody sits with her.
  • At school, painters are painting over "Merryweather High – Home of the Trojans." The Trojans are now the Blue Devils. The school board thinks "Trojans" (you know, kind of like the condoms brand) sends the wrong message about sex.
  • The narrator joins the other ninth graders in the auditorium for an assembly.
  • Everybody is in a group except the narrator. She has "entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And [she] doesn't have anybody to sit with" (1.7).
  • She used to be part of the "Plain Janes," but the other members are now in different groups.
  • Nicole is with the "Jocks" (1.9), Ivy with the "Suffering Artists" (1.9), and Jessica has moved away. The narrator can hear people behind her laughing, and she knows it's at her.
  • When she turns to look, she sees that her ex-best friend Rachel is among the laughers.
  • Out of everyone, the narrator really wants to tell Rachel the truth.
  • (It'll take a while, but we will eventually learn the narrator's secret.)
  • Rachel looks at the narrator and her lips form the words "I hate you" (1.11).
  • The narrator bites her lip and draws blood.
  • A teacher approaches. The narrator refers to him as "Mr. Neck." He tells her to sit down. She imagines he's one of those coach/social studies teachers.
  • She takes a seat next to a girl with braces who smiles at her and introduces herself as "Heather from Ohio" (1.14). Heather is new to the area.
  • The narrator summarizes the assembly by providing us with a list of "The First Ten Lies They Tell You In High School" (1.15).
  • Number One is, "We are here to help you" (1.16). Number Ten is "These will be the years you look back on fondly" (1.25). (Open up that book to see the rest…)
  • The narrator has trouble finding her first class, biology, and gets a "demerit" for being in the hall when she's supposed to be in class.
  • She figures she only has about 700 days left of high school.