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YMMV / Speak

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For the book and film

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Melinda's narration paints her parents as fairly useless and borderline on the verge of a divorce, but... they do buy her art supplies for Christmas, saying they have noticed her drawing, and frequently lament how their once-happy and sociable daughter has totally isolated herself and barely speaks. So are they really as selfish and oblivious as Melinda views them, or are we just getting the worst of them from a teenage viewpoint?
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  • Complete Monster: Andy Evans is a senior at Merryweather High School who has a reputation for sleeping around. Upon meeting a drunken Melinda Sordino at an end of the summer party, he rapes her; this results in a spiral of events which culminate in Melinda becoming traumatized to the point of nearly becoming mute. Since then, Andy made a habit out of psychologically tormenting Melinda out of sadism. Fearing that Rachel might become his next victim, Melinda attempted to warn her about Andy's true intentions, but she doesn't believe her. It's also revealed that Andy had a prolific history of sexually assaulting female students, which is shown by the multiple entries that were written on the wall in the restroom. Enraged that Melinda had ruined his reputation, Andy confronts her in the janitor's closet, and he attempts to rape her again out of spite. Egotistical and sadistic, Evans would stop at nothing to get what he wants.
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  • Crosses the Line Twice: Melinda's fear of failing Spanish class isn't funny but her conjugation of fracasar (to flunk) to "Yo am almost fracasaring" makes it impossible not to laugh.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • It's revealed in the sequel Catalyst that Andy, while found guilty of rape, never got any jail time. Laurie Halse Anderson has blogged about real-life teen rape incidences that have ample Karma Houdini and make you lament humanity.
    • Anderson in her poetry memoir Shout revealed that she was raped as a teen and didn't tell anyone, which was part of the basis for Speak.
  • She Really Can Act: Kristen Stewart, since this was one of her few film roles before Twilight. Stewart in an interview mentioned that she had trouble finding roles as a child actor because she's serious, and kids have to be funny on television.
  • Squick: The photographer at Heather's photo shoot makes all sorts of risqué comments while taking pictures of her in a bikini. It's uncomfortable considering Heather is a high school freshman.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?:
    • Melinda having to draw trees for her art class.
    • The turkey bone structure.
  • The Woobie: Oh, Melinda. She was raped during a summer party before starting high school, she's shamed by the school for calling the police because of said rape and she's been abandoned by her old friends. Then when she does make a friend, it's with a girl who doesn't really care about her and wants to be popular.

For the fanfic

  • Bile Fascination: It's classic popular Romanticized Abuse, in the same vein of Twilight. Gets some attention for that.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The reader is destined to end up with her abuser. And the whole situation significantly worsens after he abandons her while she's crying, the lowest point in their relationship. Despite its cheery exterior, it's not a happy story.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Bakugou is this at its finest. He acts worse than his canonical version, abusing his Love Interest and being commended by the fans and the author alike for it.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Obviously the reader and Bakugou end up together, after at least a few months of verbal abuse.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Bakugou crossed this when he threatened the reader in their very first conversation. He crosses it a few more times after he continues that behavior, culminating in him abandoning while she's complaining about his abuse.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The idea of being bound to an abuser for your life by fate is horrifying for many.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • The reader can come across as this, if one sees her as an abuse victim. Even when she tries to complain about Bakugou's abusive behavior, he ends up blaming it all on her!
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Bakugou is easily the biggest version of this. There are multiple points where the audience is expected to take his side, like when he yells at the reader when she tries to comfort him at the Sports Festival or when he starts making her cry after she confronts him for his abuse. He's never given punishment for either action and the reader is expected to forgive him.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: The reader takes Bakugou back after he almost apologizes when they leave the restaurant. Keep in mind, he doesn't end up directly apologizing for his abuse at all.
  • The Woobie: The reader is trapped within an abusive relationship, so this is to be expected.