I could remember from middle school seeing my sister read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. Soon after that I watched the movie adaptation. I could remember how poignant Melinda’s feelings were and how real her struggles were. You could almost feel as trapped as she did, but rejoiced when she found her voice and strength once again.
Image Via Amazon
Speak follows the story of a high school girl who attends a house party packed with students. It’s here where she’s led away from her friends and sexually assaulted by an older student. When word gets out that she called the cops afterwards and the party breaks up, her friends all snub her. She refuses to speak, she feels trapped, but she finds some shelter in her art class when school begins again. It’s a beautiful story of growing tall when you’re cut down. Now, after a book and movie, a graphic novel is in the works.
Author Laurie Halse Anderson sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss her novel and how it still has a major place in society since its release almost twenty years ago. The book went over to Macmillan, who partnered with RAINN—an anti-sexual assault organization—and soon the idea for the graphic novel was born.
Image Via Simon and Schuster
Anderson wrote the script for Speak in 2015 and Emily Carroll, the illustrator, portrayed the story in detail. According to Anderson, nothing was held back. “This book shows the attack, its devastating consequences, and the strength of the survivor as she reclaims her voice and her strength. To soften any of that would have been disrespectful to everyone who has had to endure it.”
She explains that adding images makes it that much stronger for readers. “It gives the readers more perspective on intensity of the emotion that Melinda is dealing with. The fear, the sorrow, the rage, and the triumph are visceral. The addition of the art turns a haunting melody into a resonating chord.”
Image Via Macmillan
With detailed and powerful imagery plus the book cover itself with that distinct tree, the one that readers know the meaning behind, there’s no way we couldn’t feel affected. Anderson’s novel has withstood the test of time and it’s been used in high school curriculum, but she has one thing she wants us to remember. “Until parents get over their discomfort at talking to their children about consent and sexuality — a lot — we will continue to reap generations of people scarred by sexual violence and silence. It’s on us.”
To read the rest of the interview check it out here and get Speak: The Graphic Novel soon on February 6th.
Feature Image Via Google Play