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Why Won’t Melinda Just Talk about What Happened? Speak and the Confessional Voice


Laurie Halse Anderson's 2000 novel Speak is most often lauded as an empowerment narrative for its portrayal of Melinda finding the strength to speak up about being raped. This article suggests that Anderson’s book resists such a tidy reading and instead is indicative of the complications inherent whenever an adult author mimics a teen’s confessional voice. Anderson’s novel is a sophisticated examination of how language often limits power, resisting the trappings of typical problem novels, yet it is undermined by Anderson's eventual insistence that Melinda’s healing can only come from confessing what happened to her to an adult figure.

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