Review: Speak: The Graphic Novel

The recent revelations that have been hitting the news has taken over the news cycle at a rapid rate. The revelations I have been talking about is those of the #MeToo movement, one where hundreds of thousands of victims of sexual harassment/violence have spoken up about situations where sex was used as a means of intimidation. I can honestly say, I have friends who have had this happen to them, and not until recently, they felt somewhat comfortable to be forthcoming about what happened to them. This became even more prevalent, when Netflix adapted 13 Reasons Why, which help start the conversation around suicide, mental health, but also sexual violence.

The issue became even more tangible as real-life victims came out in droves and continue to this day, as they no longer had any reason to feel unsafe or to be silenced. As this was a culture that has been cultivated for centuries, an anachronistic behavior, that was commonplace which has been quietly accepted for fear of retaliation. Though it been recently public abhorred, this “monster under the bed” is still very present. Therefore, when I recently heard of Emily Carroll’s graphic adaptation of Laurie Halse-Anderson’s distressing account of living life after rape in Speak, it became essential reading.

We meet Melanie, a young lady starting her freshman year at Merryweather High, whose life has changed dramatically and one she suffers in silence. As she struggles to become invisible, everywhere she goes, at school, where the person who caused her harm, she sees every day and at home, where her parents are always at odds, her life feels like a living nightmare, one she must either endure or find a way to change. She eventually makes some new friends but also reconnects with some old ones, one who she thought had become too popular to know her. By book’s end, she becomes empowered, no longer demure and eventually confronts her attacker, in a near deadly conflict.

Overall, a book, that although written in the 1990s, is very relevant today, as the silences of sexual violence victims, have become even louder since the publication of this book. The story by Halse-Anderson is significant, melancholy and eventually inspirational. The art by Carroll feels very in tune with the story signifying the emotional highlights while capturing the protagonist’s existential dread and eventual rise. Altogether, a story that speaks to every victim of sexual violence, that shows readers no one should ever be silent when evil takes place.

Story: Laurie Halse Anderson Art: Emily Carroll
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy