Laurie Halse Anderson

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Melinda Sordino

The protagonist of Speak, Melinda begins high school (and the novel) traumatized by a rape that occurred at the hands of upperclassman Andy Evans at a party the summer before. She has not told… read analysis of Melinda Sordino

Andy Evans

A popular and handsome upperclassman, Andy Evans raped Melinda at a party the summer before Speak begins. He is the main antagonist of the book, and spends much of the narrative harassing Melinda in various… read analysis of Andy Evans

Melinda’s mother

Overworked and distracted, Melinda’s mother is aware that her daughter has suddenly become withdrawn and depressed, but has no idea why. Rather than attempting to understand and connect with Melinda, her mother instead reacts… read analysis of Melinda’s mother

Melinda’s father

An insurance salesman, Melinda’s father is clueless and removed, although he pretends to be warm and jocular. Like Melinda’s mother, he has no idea of the trauma that Melinda has suffered, and yells at… read analysis of Melinda’s father


A transfer student from Ohio, Heather is everything that Melinda is not—perky, friendly, and obsessed with being popular. She is willing to be Melinda’s friend, however, because she initially doesn’t know that Melinda called the… read analysis of Heather
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Mr. Freeman

Melinda’s free-spirited, kind, warm art teacher, Mr. Freeman is the only adult whom Melinda respects or trusts. He tells his students to use art to express their emotions, and helps Melinda to once again find… read analysis of Mr. Freeman

Rachel Bruin

Although she and Melinda used to be best friends, Rachel now hates Melinda, believing (like the other students at their high school) that Melinda called the police on a summer party in order to get… read analysis of Rachel Bruin


A former member of the Plain Janes, Melinda’s middle school friend group, Ivy is never as cruel to Melinda as Rachel is. In fact, she and Melinda begin to become friends after spending a great… read analysis of Ivy

David Petrakis

Like Ivy, David Petrakis becomes an ally of Melinda’s, after beginning the year as her biology lab partner. Generally considered a genius, David is also a principled and moral person, qualities that he… read analysis of David Petrakis


Like Ivy and Rachel, Nicole used to be a part of Melinda’s friend group, the Plain Janes, in middle school. She is now a talented athlete, and her strength and confidence represent to Melinda… read analysis of Nicole

The Marthas (Meg n’ Emily n’ Siobhan)

An insipid and tyrannical group of girls obsessed with community service and school spirit, The Marthas are the clique that Heather tries to join. They take advantage of her insecurity and eagerness, forcing her to… read analysis of The Marthas (Meg n’ Emily n’ Siobhan)


Greta-Ingrid is one of Rachel’s new foreign exchange student friends, whose name Melinda intentionally fails to remember. She is incredibly beautiful and, like Rachel, appears to have captured the interest of Melinda’s rapist Andy Evansread analysis of Greta-Ingrid

Mr. Neck

A bullying bigot, Mr. Neck is Melinda’s social studies teacher, often singling her out for mistreatment because of her silence and sullenness. When his son doesn’t get a job as a firefighter, Mr. Neck goes… read analysis of Mr. Neck
Minor Characters
Guidance counselor
Melinda’s guidance counselor means well, but is unable to find out why she is cutting classes and is unable to make friends. Yet another powerless and unhelpful adult, the guidance counselor only makes matters worse in attempting to talk to Melinda’s parents about her problems.
Principal Principal
Melinda considers Principal Principal so incompetent that she refuses to even learn his name. Frequently fooled and mocked by students, Principal Principal tries and fails to connect with Melinda and to understand what is wrong with her.
Melinda names her English teacher Hairwoman because she cannot see her face through her thick hair. Obsessed with The Scarlet Letter and creative writing, Hairwoman continually tries to get her students excited and inspired about English, although she often comes across as clueless and incompetent.
Ms. Keen
One of the few adults whom Melinda does not dislike, Ms. Keen is her smart and interesting biology teacher. Melinda is especially interested in her units about plants and trees, because of her art project on the subject.
Mr. Stetman
Like Ms. Keen, Mr. Stetman, Melinda’s algebra teacher, is kind, hardworking, and genuinely excited about his subject. Melinda, however, puts no effort into understanding algebra, and frequently earns terrible grades in his class.
Ms. Connors
Melinda’s gym teacher, Ms. Connors is impressed by her skill in basketball and tennis, but disappointed that Melinda’s terrible grades will not allow her to join the basketball team.
Spanish teacher
Melinda’s Spanish teacher attempts to use immersion to teach her students Spanish, but fails; she is yet another adult who fails to communicate with the high schoolers around her.
Kind and understanding, the Librarian gives Melinda a late pass after she cries in the library. Melinda ends up taking advantage of this, stealing an entire pad of late passes in order to cut class.
Heather’s mother
Another clueless adult, Heather’s mother is friendly but phony. She encourages Heather’s friendship with Melinda, and seems concerned that her daughter hasn’t made more friends.
Coach Disaster
Because the school’s football team is so awful, Melinda renames the football coach Coach Disaster.
Basketball Coach
Like Ms. Connors, Basketball Coach is impressed by Melinda’s ability to make baskets, but disappointed that she cannot join the girls’ team. They offer to let her help coach the boys’ team in exchange for an A in gym, and while she says yes, she never actually follows through.
Kyle Rodgers
Although Kyle Rodgers never appears in the novel, it was at his party that Andy Evans raped Melinda.
A former member of the Plain Janes (Melinda’s old friend group), Jessica has since moved to Nevada.
Raven Cheerleader and Amber Cheerleader
Melinda makes fun of the cheerleaders at her school, especially two blonde seniors whom she names Raven Cheerleader and Amber Cheerleader. At the end of the book, however, she sees Amber Cheerleader saying goodbye to Mr. Freeman, and realizes that she may have misjudged her.
Basketball Pole
One of the players on Merryweather High’s basketball team. His real name is Brendan Keller.
An exchange student from Egypt; Rachel’s friend.
Todd Ryder
A sleazy yearbook photographer, Todd Ryder uses his position for popularity — only the cool kids who hang out with him get good pictures.
Brendan Keller
A player on the boys basketball team who Melinda agrees to teach to shoot free-throws after impressing her gym coaches with her skill. Melinda refers to Brendan, privately, by the name "Basketball Pole," and doesn't actually show up to coach him.