Trigger warning: Rape
I don’t know what to say. I loved “Speak” when I read it back in 2015. I felt for Melinda and wanted to hug her throughout the story and loved how Anderson takes a long road to showing us what happened to Melinda and how her life became unraveled before her freshman year of high school. The graphic novel does a great job with showing us Melinda in the present day and her memories of her friends and of a party that changed everything via the illustrations by Emily Carroll. The illustrations add so much to this story and I am glad that I read “Speak” first and then this graphic novel next. I already knew the story that Anderson was going to tell. Seeing it via another medium made it even more powerful.
“Speak: The Graphic Novel” follows the main character, Melinda. Melinda is starting her freshman year in high school and the novel quickly shows how alone she feels. She is unable to speak and as we follow her through four quarters at Merryweather High School we find out what led Melinda to lose her voice and how in the end she gets it back.
Melinda has so much pain in her and I am blown away again by the fact that her parents were this clueless. The only person that seems to be aware of Melinda is her art teacher, Mr. Freeman and a classmate of her David Petrakis. The character of Heather was self-absorbed and I cracked up at the scene we had in the novel (with Melinda telling Heather no) was done again in this with Heather’s face not processing being told no.
The writing was so good. I think that doing this novel with illustrations was actually brilliant. Considering that Melinda finds her voice again via her art and art class in school I thought it was great to see.
The graphics just made me want to go and buy this book in hardcover though.
The graphic novel shows us Melinda’s room, her secret hiding place at school, and her art classes. Everything feels tight and slightly claustrophobic.
The ending really resonates and I can’t believe this book is already 20 years old. The themes in this book made it in my mind a true classic that I can see people reading for years.
I am counting this towards the “Illustrated” square for Cannonball Read 11.