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In Laurie Halse Anderson's young adult novel, SpeakMelinda Sordino must face both her freshman year of highschool and the trauma of sexual assault in great isolation. At a party over the summer, a schoolmate assaulted Melinda. All of her old friends and classmates are angry with her because she called the police, who came to break up the party. She has lost her friends and becomes increasingly anxious about speaking to anyone at all, despite desperately wanting to open up about what happened to her. What's worse, the boy who assaulted Melinda begins to taunt her in school.

On Job Day, Melinda and her classmates take a career aptitude test which gauges their skills and pleasures in life and suggests a career for them. Melinda doesn't care about taking this test and it stresses her out to think too far into the future. She simply wants to make it through her freshman year without succumbing to her anxiety! The aftermath of trauma, a loss of friends, and feeling neglected by her parents weighs far more heavily on Melinda's mind than how she "should" spend the rest of her life.

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