"Speak" is about Melinda Sordino, a 14-year-old girl who begins 9th grade as the most unpopular teenager in town; she calls herself an outcast. During the summer, a terrible incident occurred at a party, after which Melinda had called the police. The other kids thought she was just trying to ruin the party. Neither they nor the police--nor even Melinda's parents--would listen to her, to learn why she had called. So Melinda decides that since no one will listen to her, she will just stop talking.
There is not one main idea, or theme, of the book; there are several. One theme is alienation/isolation. Melinda is alienated from the other kids in her school, and she isolates herself even more. Another theme is secrecy. The thing that is hardest for Melinda to speak about is the secret that she keeps after the party. Read the eNotes section on themes for more.
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There are several themes in the book, Speak. Two of the biggest themes are about social casting and about keeping secrets.
The first, about social casting, runs throughout the book in characters like Heather and Andy Evans. Heather longs to be popular, and Andy already is. Melinda is shunned by the popular people. The casting of the social strata is very important in Melinda's high school.
The other theme, about keeping secrets, is what the book is titled after. The main character, Melinda, will not speak about the horrible event she experienced over the summer. Because of this, she turns inward and becomes an outcast. Her secret changes her, and changes the way people respond to her.