Melinda Sordino

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Melinda Sordino
Melinda Sordino.jpg
Interior artwork from Speak: The Graphic Novel (February, 2018 Macmillan). Art by Emily Carroll.
First appearanceSpeak
Last appearanceCatalyst
Created byLaurie Halse Anderson
Portrayed byKristen Stewart
FamilyJack Sordino (father)
Joyce Sordino (mother)

Melinda "Mel" Sordino is the main character and narrator of Laurie Halse Anderson's 1999 novel Speak.[1] Her last name, Sordino, is an Italian word that can be translated as "deaf."



One summer, prior to starting ninth grade at Merryweather 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 and teacher, Mr. Freeman, 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 coming forward about her rape. These events include her parents giving her art supplies showing that they care, her only companion and 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-best 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 finally break her silence, which sets her free from her isolation and terror.


In Anderson's 2002 novel Catalyst, Melinda Sordino appears for a few pages; now in tenth grade at Merryweather High. When a fellow student, Kate Malone, has a mental breakdown, she counsels and helps her through the rough patch. It is stated that Melinda's rapist, Andy, is found guilty but does not go to prison; instead, he is sentenced to probation and has to register as a sex offender, therefore is under house arrest, must wear an ankle monitor when completing his penalty, and ordered to stay away from Melinda and her family at all times.

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.


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 and scabbed over. 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 one of the chapters.

In other media[edit]

Kristen Stewart as Melinda Sordino.

The character is portrayed by Kristen Stewart in the 2004 film adaptation.


  1. ^ Christie Jo Bott (2004). The Bully In The Book And In The Classroom. Scarecrow Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8108-5048-4.