Melinda remembers when she looked forward to starting high school. It was a new chapter filled with promise. She’d have the chance to become anyone she wanted.
That was before the end of summer. Before what happened at the party.
Now Melinda is alone. Her parents are too busy hating each other and their lives to pay any attention to why Melinda stopped speaking let alone anything else. At school everyone knows that Melinda is the one who called 911 and brought the cops to the biggest party of the summer.
Art class is Melinda’s one refuge. She doesn’t have to think about the best friends who abandoned her or the new girl who calls her a friend when it’s convenient. She doesn’t have to worry about trying to talk to David Petrakis. She doesn’t even have to think about what happened at the party. All she has to do is draw trees.
Melinda starts the school year as an observer–an outsider. She isn’t okay. But with her art, a reclaimed supply closet, and some time, Melinda might be able to reclaim her voice in Speak: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll.
This book is the graphic novel adaptation of Anderson’s award winning novel of the same name. Although Speak was originally published in 1999 Melinda’s story remains just as timely and immediate in this new version.
In many ways, Speak: The Graphic Novel feels like the form this story should have always had. Anderson’s story is complemented by Carroll’s eerie black and white illustrations. The format allows the story to shift easily between Melinda’s reality and her imaginings. Carefully constructed page designs also help evoke a palpable sense of Melinda’s silence and her introspection for much of the novel.
Speak has been a must-read since its original publication. This graphic novel adaptation underscores the story’s significance and makes it approachable for a whole new segment of readers.
Possible Pairings: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali, A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhatena, Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green, I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy, Monster: The Graphic Novel by Walter Dean Myers, Adapted by Guy Sims, Illustrated by David Anyabwile; The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell