Books at the Box Office: Speak

Before she was Bella Swan, Kristen Stewart was in Speak, the book adapted from the novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, who has since become a well-known advocate for survivors.  I actually never read the original Speak, I was way too young at the time, but I read the graphic novel adaptation and was blown away by that and Anderson’s new verse memoir, Shout. I definitely understand why the movie and the book originally caused such waves. TW for sexual assault, obviously.

First, the book:

The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

You can also find the graphic novel adaptation here, and it really blew me away.

Now, the movie:


The book was published in 1999, and the movie came out in 2004, which is pretty quick turnaround in book time. Kristen Stewart played the main role, clearly, and Allison Siko played her friend, Heather. Eric Lively plays Andy, and yes, he is related to Blake Lively. I checked. The film was directed by Jessica Sharzer who wrote the screenplay for A Simple Favor in 2018.

You can stream Speak on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Showtime, so no excuse if you haven’t seen it yet.


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