Speak: The Graphic Novel is the graphic novelization of Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning young adult novel which is often considered a modern classic. Speak tells the story of freshman Melissa Sordino. After calling the police at a party over the summer, Melissa is ostracized by her peers and former friends. However, none of her peers knows the true reason behind her phone call: she was raped by an upperclassmen who still threatens her at school.
Speak was originally published in 1999 and the movie was released in 2004. It has been challenged and banned in countless schools. Still, Melissa’s story resonates with many readers and her traumatic experience is still not uncommon in our society. I appreciate that Speak was transformed into a graphic novel to reach a whole new audience of readers who may identify with Melissa’s experiences.
I’ve never actually read the original version of Speak, but I’ve seen the movie version on television several times. I asked my sister, who has read the book and seen the movie, and she said they are very similar. From those comparisons, I would say the graphic novel also stays true to the story. While there are a few “modern” references thrown in (I remember a character mentioning Instagram, which didn’t exist the book was originally published), but overall the core aspects of the story remain the same which I appreciated.
I also really enjoyed the artwork in this book. Artwork plays a huge role in Melissa’s story, so it is a very integral part of the book. I think the artwork (illustrated by Emily Carroll), really captured the tone of the book. I also appreciated how the artwrok emphasized several symbols that appear throughout the book, such as trees and a Maya Angelou poster that Melissa hangs in her work space.
All considered, I think the most powerful aspect of Speak is it message. I think one of the main reasons that Speak is considered a modern classic is how it speaks to so many people. There are so many people who relate to Melissa’s experience, especially people who are considered in the “young adult” range. By putting this book in a graphic novel format, it opens the doors for more people to read this book and realize that they aren’t alone.
Overall, Speak: The Graphic Novel is a wonderful adaptation of a great story. I hope to read this book in its original format in the near future. However, whether you read it in its original format, the graphic novel, or watch the movie, I believe this is a story that you need to read or watch at least once. I give this book five out of five stars.