Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Speak: The Graphic Novel

Carroll, Emily (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2018. 376 pages
First published: 2018
ISBN: 9780374300289 (hardcover)
9781466897878 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, evocative language, layout, multimodal, panel arrangement, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Melinda is in her first year of high school, a fraught enough time without having to deal with outright ostracism. Last summer, at a party, Melinda called the cops, and the resulting bust and arrests have made her the least popular girl at Merryweather High. She’s never been able to tell anyone that Andy Evans raped her, and now she’s depressed, cutting class and clamming up: “Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me.” Her only reprieve is art class, where her teacher, Mr. Freeman, gently shows her that self-repression is corrosive: “when people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at time.” The dramatic central arc of this graphic novel also leaves room for the exploration of other high school issues: future plans, immigration, racism, cutbacks, bullying, marital strife, the whisper network, friendship and ex-friendship.

The expressive, black and greyscale ink graphic art shows the nuances of the characters’ emotional reactions, more or less filled in and at more or less close range depending on the emotional weight of the scene. The rapist, for example, is depicted with black scratched-out holes for eyes. Recurring report cards provide a visual touchstone for Melinda’s academic and psychological state, and the chapter titles, by turns dark and wry, are white on black on page corners reminiscent of tears or spilled ink. The use of different-sized framing varies the pacing and dramatic intensity of the narrative: a full-page frameless drawing depicts the school cafeteria with the chilling description, “it is a vespiary, the hornet haven,” scribbled into a bouquet of thunderbolts at the bottom of the page. Meanwhile, Melinda meanders in barely outlined grey, pale and uncertain, among the generalized hoodlumery, gossip and din.

  •  Scenes of violence are rendered through flashbacks throughout the text. Discuss what might have happened to Melinda the year before starting high school.
  •  In a small literature circle group, discuss the elements of author/producer’s craft that contribute the most to meaning. Consider how they relate to the big idea(s).
  •  Following reading and discussions with peers, use a production process to write a text that explores one or more of the issues presented in the text. Attempt to argue a point or persuade readers to take a position on the matter.
  •  In a group of two or three, discuss tips, tricks and strategies on how teen girls can enjoy parties safely and responsibly.
  •  As you read, take note of the people and events that directly affect Melinda’s self-esteem, either positively or negatively.
  •  

    Write an epilogue on what happens to Andy Evans after his final exchange with Melinda. You may choose to continue with the graphic novel format or use simple text.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences