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Friday, December 05, 2008

Melinda Sordino

Kristen Stewart as Melinda Sordino.

First appearance: Speak
Last appearance: Catalyst
Created by: Laurie Halse Anderson
Portrayed by: Kristen Stewart
Gender: Female
Age: 14-15
Date of birth: August, 1984 (24 in 2008)
Occupation: Student
Book version: Jack Sordino (Father), Unnamed mother
Film version: Joyce Sordino (mother) Jack Sordino (father)
Address: Syracuse, New York
Melinda Sordino (born August 16, 1984) is the young narrator of Laurie Halse Anderson's 1999 novel Speak. Her last name, Sordino, is an Italian word that can be variously translated as "mute" or "deaf".
Going into ninth grade at her new high school, Melinda Sordino goes to a party with three other friends and is raped by a senior, Andy Evans. This abuse forces her into silence and drastically changes her life and social structure; in fact, for most of the novel, she refers to Andy only as IT.
She finds solace in her art class, where she has a year long assignment of drawing a tree. Throughout the year she slowly creates a hidden room for herself in an old janitor's closet, which is the setting for the climactic ending of the novel.

Throughout the year, several minor events led up to her admitting she was raped. These events include her parents giving her art supplies showing they care, her friend Heather leaving her and saying she needs therapy, seeing things written about Andy on the bathroom wall and cutting school the next day.

For the majority of the novel, she refuses to admit to herself that she was raped, a fact that makes it hard for Melinda to heal and continue with her life. Melinda attempts to confide in her ex-friend Rachel, but Rachel doesn't believe her. Only when Andy confronts her about talking to Rachel and attempts to rape her again does Melinda fight back and breaks her silence.
Melinda is the first person narrator of Speak. She is very observant and notices every small detail. Her abuse has made her cynical, though she is very secretive about it. The cliques and social groups (or "clans") at her school disgust her, a fact which she makes well known through her narration.

At times her voice seems to be just a stream of consciousness, having little or no start nor end. The sentence structure is often short and choppy, representing how Melinda is feeling at the moment.
Melinda’s physical appearance is rarely described, except in the context of what clothing she is wearing and how her lips are chapped. It is also mentioned she has black eyebrows which suggests she is dark haired. Her mother buys her clothing, which she dislikes, and her lips are always bloody and dry from lack of use, and the fact that she bites them when she sees Andy Evans, or when something bad happens to her. It is mentioned in "Winter Break" that she is not extremely pretty, which shows that Melinda is just an average looking girl. In the chapter "Hall of Mirrors", it is told that Melinda wears a size ten pants. It also mentions she has auburn hair in chapter thirteen.
In Other Media
In Anderson's 2002 novel Catalyst, Melinda appeared for a few pages, now in tenth grade. When a fellow student has a mental breakdown, she counsels her and helps her through the rough patch. It is stated that Melinda’s rapist, Andy, though found guilty did not go to jail.


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