Kristen Stewart as Melinda Sordino.
|Created by||Laurie Halse Anderson|
|Portrayed by||Kristen Stewart|
|Family||Jack Sordino (father)
Joyce Sordino (mother)
Going into ninth grade at her new high school, Melinda "Mel" Sordino goes to a party with three other friends and is raped by a senior, Andy Evans. This abuse forces her into silence and drastically changes her life and social structure; in fact, for most of the novel, she refers to Andy only as IT.
She finds solace in her art class, where she has a year long assignment of drawing a tree which plays a major role in her life. Throughout the year she slowly creates a hidden room for herself in an old janitor's closet, which acts as her safe haven, and is the setting for the climactic ending of the novel.
Throughout the year, several minor events led up to her admitting she was raped. These events include her parents giving her art supplies showing that they care, her only friend Heather leaving her and saying Melinda needs therapy, seeing things written about Andy on the bathroom wall and cutting school the next day.
For the majority of the novel, she refuses to admit to herself that she was raped, a fact that makes it hard for Melinda to heal and continue with her life. Melinda attempts to confide in her ex-friend Rachel, but she doesn't believe her. Only when Andy angrily confronts her about talking to Rachel and attempts to rape her again Melinda fights back and breaks her silence.
Melinda is the first person narrator of Speak. She is very observant and notices every small detail. Her abuse has made her cynical, though she is very secretive about it. The cliques and social groups (or "clans") at her school disgust her, a fact which she makes well known through her narration.
At times her voice seems to be just a stream of consciousness, having little or no start nor end. The sentence structure is often short and choppy, representing how Melinda is feeling at the moment.
Melinda's physical appearance is rarely described, except in the context of what clothing she is wearing and how her lips are chapped. It is also mentioned she has black eyebrows and "muddy" brown eyes. Her mother buys her clothing, which she dislikes, and her lips are always bloody and dry from the fact that she bites them when she sees Andy Evans, or when something bad happens to her. It is mentioned in "Winter Break" that she is not extremely pretty, which shows that Melinda is just an average looking girl. In the chapter "Hall of Mirrors", it is told that Melinda wears a size ten pants. It also mentions she has auburn hair in chapter thirteen.
In other media
In Anderson's 2002 novel Catalyst, Melinda Sordino appears for a few pages, now in tenth grade. When a fellow student has a mental breakdown, she counsels her and helps her through the rough patch. It is stated that Melinda’s rapist, Andy, is found guilty but does not go to jail; instead, he is sentenced to probation and has to register as a sex offender. In the 10th anniversary edition of Speak, Anderson explained that she was seriously considering making a sequel, but could not think of a basic plot, citing that sequels are usually meant to build on a previous film's popularity, using Jaws: The Revenge as an example.
- Christie Jo Bott (2004). The Bully In The Book And In The Classroom. Scarecrow Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8108-5048-4.
- Joan Kaywell (2004). Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope With Abuse Issues. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-313-30715-7.
- Bernard Alger Drew (2002). 100 more popular young adult authors: biographical sketches and bibliographies. Libraries Unlimited. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-56308-920-6.