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"Speak": The Growth and Development of Melinda Sordino

By croat4life18 Oct 09, 2007 974 Words
Melinda, a young girl just beginning her first year of high school has some obstacles from her past, destroying her future. Many teenagers like Melinda are faced with the unfortunate affects of being sexually abused and it holds the teens back. Many young teens think it is over for them and just give up on life. Though, there are those like Melinda who just take time to break free and heal. These teens go through many different stages before all of the pain goes away. These young adults begin by not letting any emotions or thoughts out, and at this time these teens think it is best for them. After a long period of time these teenagers actually begin to think differently. The teens attitudes, just like Melinda's, changes slightly and the teenagers begin to open up to a few people. After a period of time, life re-enters into the teenagers' bodies and the teens begin to see a better perspective on life. Melinda was fortunate enough to break free from not talking to her peers. Throughout the novel, Melinda enables her own growth by becoming socially, academically and emotionally stronger, more developed and confident.

Melinda has found her voice over the course of the novel and has grown socially because of it. In the beginning Melinda was a social outcast. She did not have any friends, she would not talk to anybody and she hurt herself by keeping it all inside. People did not like her because she would not speak up: "Aren't you the one that called the cops at Kyle Rodgers's party at the end of the summer? . . . . My brother got arrested at that party. He got fired from his job because of it. I can't believe you did that. Assshole." (27 - 28). This proves that Melinda is a social outcast and is not liked by her peers. However by the end of the book, Melinda - through a series of events - grows and becomes a social teenager. She talks to Rachel and is not known as the girl who called the cops at the party anymore: "I didn't call the cops to break up the party . . . I called . . . them because some guy raped me." (183). This proves that Melinda developed enough confidence to tell Rachel what happened to her last summer. All in all, Melinda has learnt that speaking up is way better than not speaking at all and it has benefited her socially. Melinda has not only grown socially but she has grown academically as well.

Furthermore Melinda has improved in her academics, and strives to do better in her classes and academic life. In the beginning, Melinda did not care about school. She was not paying attention in her classes, she was not doing any of her homework and she even experimented with truancy: "The first hour of blowing off school is great. No one to tell me what to do, what to read and what to say." (97). This proves that Melinda skipped school and like the freedom she had when doing it. However Melinda gets punished for her acts and after a bad encounter in detention, she realizes that she does not want to be punished anymore. So Melinda decides to follow the rules and try to do better. She starts going to all her classes and actually takes school more seriously: "I've been going to most of my classes. Good girl Mellie. Roll over, Mellie. Sit, Mellie. No one has patted me on the head, though. I passed an algebra test, I passed an English test and I passed a biology test." (143). This quote clearly shows that she is trying and really wants to improve her marks. Even though Melinda started of bad, she improved her marks and became academically responsible. In addition to growing academically and socially, Melinda has also grown emotionally too.

Melinda has had a rough time in high school but she has matured in the way she thinks and has grown emotionally. To start, Melinda is a wreck. She is sad, depressed and emotionally unstable. She has kept all of her feelings inside and it is hurting her. Her lips and wrists are a physical sign that she is emotionally unstable: "I open a paper clip and scratch it across the inside of my left wrist . . . . I draw little windowcracks of blood, etching line after line until it stops hurting. It looks like I arm wrestled a rosebush."(87). This proves that Melinda is so emotionally unstable, it has come to the point where she is physically hurting herself to relieve some of the tensions that are building inside her head. However - through a series of events (Melinda pretending to be on Oprah and other talk shows) - she realizes that is not her fault and that she should not take the blame for this incident. As a result, Melinda gains confidence and becomes more emotionally stable. In fact, she becomes so confident that she is able to stand up to Andy Evans: "No. A sound explodes from [Melinda]. 'NNNOOO!!!'" (194). This proves that she has grown because for the first time ever, Melinda stood up for and defended herself. In conclusion, Melinda started of slow, but gradually turned into an emotionally strong teenager.

By growing socially, academically and emotionally, Melinda becomes a stronger and more developed teenager. Despite the damage that was done to her, Melinda was able to over come the obstacles that were holding her back and started thinking positively again. By getting connected with her inner strength, Melinda is able to reach out and become more confident in her life. Throughout the novel, Melinda shows that people need a balance in life and if something offsets that balance it can dramatically change a person and that person's way of life.

Work CitedAndrea Laurie Halse. Speak. New York; Penguin, 1999.

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