When Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was published in 1999, it immediately spoke to thousands of teenage girls. Finally, something was capturing an all too common threat across high schools and colleges: sexual assault. The powerful story that has sparked conversations across high schools is now getting a powerful reboot in graphic novel form thanks to Hachette Children’s Group.
Kate Agar has acquired the UK and Commonwealth rights to Speak: The Graphic Novel from Macmillan, who published the work with illustrations by Emily Carroll, in the United States earlier this year. The story that took high schools and colleges by storm only stands to be more powerful in graphic novel form. The book is set to release in August 2019 along with a new edition of the classic novel, which Hachette Children’s Group also published since the 1999 release.
After being attacked at a party just before starting high school, Melinda accidentally busts the party by calling the police. No one at the party knows why she called the police, and she immediately becomes an object of public scorn. Her best friends turn on her, leaving her alone to deal with the fallout. Through out the story, Melinda doesn’t speak. She can’t articulate to anyone why she called the police, and even when she does make new friends they also turn on her.
Because of Melinda’s inability to speak up, the story is extremely powerful. It isn’t about survivors or victims refusing to tell their stories, it is about no one being there to listen. What’s powerful about this story in graphic novel form is that there is no descriptive text to surround the dialogue. Melinda’s silence becomes harder to ignore as a reader, adding a level of depth to an already heartbreaking story.
In an interview with The Bookseller, Agar explained why it was so important for them to acquire the graphic novel:
As soon as I saw Emily Carroll’s masterful adaptation, I knew that we had to have this graphic novel edition sitting alongside Laurie Halse Anderson’s classic on our list. Sadly, the story at the heart of Speak remains as relevant and pertinent as it was 20 years ago, and the graphic novelisation is an amazing format in which to tell it.
Anderson has agreed with Agar, stating that she is glad it will be Hachette to publish the graphic novel. She adds that Speak can help communities, schools, and people in general learn how to deal with these situations and speak up!
image via whyy
Also published this year, was Laurie Halse Anderson’s book of poetry, Shout. In response to nothing changing among the way we handle survivors’ stories in the media, especially with allegations towards those in high seated positions, Anderson once again picked up the pen to express her rage.