The novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is set in modern time, about the 1990's according to the popular culture references. The time period is when rape, the subject of this novel, is discussed, but with a counselor and not yet acknowledged in any public way. The setting is mostly at school where Melinda endures the tormenting of the other students who do not understand the why of her calling the police when at a party. The closet setting shows both the hiding Melinda does inside as so much of what we as readers know is from her mind, and the danger of remaining alone and isolated when criminal behavior like rape is kept quiet within herself. The plot is shaped as much by the rape itself and its very public consequences as it is by Melinda's silence and unwillingness to share the agony of her rape with anyone.
Speak takes place in today's society, and it says a lot about teenagers today. It is an important work because it takes place in light of current tragedies in schools such as Columbine or the Virginia Tech shooting. It deals with adolescent depression and rape, and it is something that probably would be more widely discussed today than 50 years ago. A good comparsion to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Catcher in the Rye.