Speak is a wrenching, heart-breaking, and surprisingly hopeful story of a young girl's journey through her first year of high school. Melinda Sordino is a freshman-to-be at the start of the book, and finds herself on the verge of high school viewed as a universally hated and friendless person. This ostracizing is because of an incident at a party that occurred just before the start of the school year. At first, only vague details are given about the party, and Melinda is quite like any other lonely teenager. However, as the book progresses, Melinda's life is drawn in to a downward spiral. We see her trying to cope with a loveless family, a friendless existence, and ghosts of her past. As the real events of the party are slowly unveiled, the reaction it provokes can only be described as heartbreak. At a certain part in the book, Melinda descends emotionally to a point in which she elects to stop talking. Her journey downwards and upwards again is described in a voice of quiet grace, the writing style being simple and emotional without unneeded flourishes. While the tragedy of Melinda's past will not exactly be relatable to almost all readers, her general social situation and emotions certainly will be. The author does an outstanding job of telling instead of showing, the result being a short, raw novel of surprising hope and healing.