The setting of Speak is a high school in Syracuse, New York right before the turn of the twenty-first century.
Setting is the landscape of a story. It includes the time period, the location, and the culture in which the book is set. Teenage high school culture is an important part of the book.
High school is a hellish place. Melinda attends Merryweather High School. The book begins at the beginning of freshman year.
It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache. (p. 3)
Melinda describes herself as an outcast, and describes the other kids as all falling into specific cliques based on their interests. She describes them as “clans,” including the “Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders” and so on (p. 4). The novel follows her throughout her first year, as her life slowly falls apart.
High school is a time and place where kids turn on you. Melinda basically describes high school as this world. All of the kids hate her, including her former best friend Rachel. She is considered a “ho” and a snitch for calling the police on a party. She does not tell anyone she was raped.
Over the course of the year, Melinda grows. At the end, she confronts Andy as he tries to rape her. She has found her strength, and other kids respect her too.