Laurie Halse Anderson

Square Fish



Trade Paperback

224 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy

A Michal L. Printz Honor Book
A National Book Award Finalist
An Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
Winner of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Golden Kite Award
An American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Top Ten First Novel

"Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows that this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, cast out by friends and even hated by strangers. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. So she stops trying, stops talking. As retreats into her head, all the lies and hypocrisies of high school become magnified, leaving her with no desire to talk to anyone anyway.

Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was assaulted by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In this powerful novel, an utterly believeable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.


Praise for Speak

"An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last."—The Horn Book, (starred review)

"A frightening and sobering look at the cruelty and viciousness that pervade much of contemporary high school life, as real as today's headlines. . . . The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn . . . a novel that will be hard for readers to forget."—Kirkus Reviews, Pointer Review

"Melinda's voice is distinct, unusual, and very real as she recounts her past and present experiences in bitterly ironic, occasionally even amusing vignettes. . . . Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers."—Booklist

"Melinda's pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story."—School Library Journal

"A story told with acute insight, acid wit, and affecting prose."—Library Journal

"In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. . . . Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. . . . But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired."—Publishers Weekly, (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.

The school bus wheezes to my corner. The door...

Read the full excerpt


  • Laurie Halse Anderson

  • Laurie Halse Anderson is the highly acclaimed author of several picture books, young adult novels, historical fiction, and a twelve-book middle grade series. She is best known for Speak, which is one of the most important YA novels published in the last two decades. She lives with her family in upstate New York.

  • Laurie Halse Anderson Joyce Tenneson
    Laurie Halse Anderson



Discussion Guide