Review of Speak: The Graphic Novel

Speak: The Graphic Novel
by Laurie Halse Anderson; illus. by Emily Carroll
High School    Farrar    376 pp.
2/18    978-0-374-30028-9    $19.99

In this new graphic novel adaptation of Anderson’s Speak (rev. 9/99) — a powerful narrative of a high school freshman’s year of self-preservation after a brutal sexual assault — artist Carroll starkly renders protagonist Melinda’s pain and healing in black and white, expertly deploying visual perspective and tension to sharpen the emotional impact. As she withdraws further and further under the strain of coping with her classmates’ cruelty and the terror of crossing paths with the senior who raped her at a party, silence becomes sanctuary. Art becomes a means of expression for her, making the graphic novel format especially resonant with the original theme. Much remains the same narratively as Melinda moves through a world and relationships that cannot be as they were but that still offer tentative hope. The addition of smartphones and social media provides some modern window dressing, and the juxtaposition of a tumultuous first-person narration with the third-person visual perspective will give even longtime devotees a new way to experience Melinda’s story.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.

Anastasia M. Collins

Anastasia M. Collins is a children’s literature scholar and academic librarian. She holds an MS in library science and an MA in children’s literature from Simmons University and the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more