Study Guide

Speak Sadness

By Laurie Halse Anderson


It would be fair to call Laurie Halse Anderson's bestselling novel a "tearjerker." The novel's young heroine, Melinda Sordino, is deeply sad. She's been raped and can't tell anybody. All the people she thought were her friends hate her. Her constant need to sleep, her self-mutilation, her depression are all symptoms of the deep sadness she feels. Her vision of the world, of herself, and of her friends is shattered. Now she trusts no one. By the end of the book, however, Melinda is gradually letting go of her depression. When she finally learns how to speak about the terrible thing that happened to her, she begins to find a way past her sadness.

Questions About Sadness

  1. Melinda perceives Mr. Freeman as being depressed around the time she is. Does Mr. Freeman's depression have an impact on Melinda? Explain your answer.
  2. What are some of the ways Melinda shows her sadness?
  3. Does Melinda's sadness make other characters sad? Why, or why not? Can you give some examples?
  4. What gives Melinda relief from her sadness? Why is it effective? What would you recommend if you were her friend?
  5. Does Melinda do things to make her sadness worse? If so, why does she do those things?

Chew on This

More than calling the cops at the party, Melinda's depression drives away her friends.

Melinda learns to uses sadness as a tool to help her find her feelings.