Study Guide

Speak Isolation

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Melinda starts the school year isolated by her outcast status, by the secret of her recent rape, and by the fact that her rapist goes to her school. Some of her isolation is self-imposed; she intentionally withdraws from people. This has its benefits. She really needs time to process her experience and come to her own conclusions about it. But she also needs the support of friends and family in order to heal. One great thing about Speak is that Melinda recognizes that her isolation is harmful and takes steps to reconnect with others.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Are other characters isolated, besides Melinda? Why, or why not? How can you tell?
  2. Does Melinda push away people who care about her? If so, who does she push away and why?
  3. Does nature help Melinda feel less isolated? Explain your answer.
  4. Is Melinda still isolated at the end of the novel?
  5. Does Melinda benefit at all from isolation? What's the difference between isolation and healthy alone-time?

Chew on This

In Speak, Melinda recognizes that her isolation from friends and family is harmful for her, and she takes steps to reconnect with others.

At the end of Speak, Andy and Melinda change places – he becomes the isolated outcast she once was.