Advanced English II Summer Reading 2012-2013
The summer reading assignment for Advanced English II will be Speak by Laurie Halse
Anderson. You are responsible for purchasing the book. On the first day of class you will
be given an essay test over the reading material. If you have not read the book by the
scheduled registration day in August, you need to tell the counselor to take you out of
Advanced English II. I have included a study guide that will help you organize your
thoughts and take notes in order to pass the test. You will also need to know the meaning
of vocabulary words for each section. Make sure you take good notes.
As you read the book, make sure you highlight themes or topics that may be important
for you to develop essay answers. This includes identifying similes, metaphors, allusions,
personification, alliteration and symbolism. I have given you questions for each section
that will assist you in studying for the test. I have also included examples of test
questions. You will be expected to give specific examples on the test to support your
answers. Each answer should be developed and well thought out. I would expect
approximately a page for each question divided into paragraphs with at least five
sentences in each paragraph. The test will be given on the first day of class to ensure that
you have read the book. If you fail the test, you will be removed from the class. If you
have NOT read the book, change your schedule prior to the first day of class so that your
classes are not totally rearranged.
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Notes about the author – Laurie Halse Anderson is a unique individual who milked
cows to raise money for college. She decided to become a writer in the second grade
when she learned to write haiku. She began writing “for real” in her late teens. She says
she wrote in a closet, then moved to the basement and sold some stories in her twenties.
When she is really feeling inspired, she writes for as long as 10 hours a day. She writes
for all age levels and says she has lots of “voices” in her head. These “voices” have
become characters in award winning books including Speak, Catalyst, and Fever, 1793.
WARNING! This book deals with a confrontational issue. It also deals
with every day life as a high school student. You will meet Melinda Sardino, a ninth
grader who shares her life with two detached parents, many equally dysfunctional friends,
and a deep, dark secret that almost renders her completely speechless.
What I hope you will see is that even though most of you will never (I hope) have to deal
with Melinda’s problem, you will deal with many similar conflicts, emotions, and
relationships throughout your high school “life.” That is the whole point of good
literature – it draws us in to the human circle of life. We are all basically the same…
Melinda Sardino – main character (protagonist); 9th grader; withdrawn after a traumatic
event which shatters her self-confidence and ruins her reputation with “friends”; she
thinks she’s ugly and fat and completely undesirable; hangs out in the janitor’s closet to
skip class and avoid people.
Rachel – Melinda’s ex-best friend; changes her name to Rachelle to sound more
Mr. Neck – social studies teacher; doesn’t like Melinda from day one
Hairwoman – English teacher; very weird
Mr. Freeman – art teacher who pretty much saves Melinda’s life by showing her how to
release frustrations through artistic creation.
Heather from Ohio – new student who befriends Melinda; very talkative and bubbly;
eventually joins troops with Melinda’s old gang of friends (The Marthas) so that she can
be popular and leaves Melinda behind.
Mom – manages a small clothing store; always tries to dress Melinda in clothes from her
store; doesn’t have time for Melinda or managing the household.
Dad – loves Melinda, but doesn’t communicate very well
David Petrakis – Melinda’s lab partner and would-be friend if she would let him in; he
defends her in social studies class when she refuses to give a speech.
Andy Evans – senior jock; popular with the ladies; the perpetrator, predator, evil one,
whatever you want to call him….
Pages 3-24 “Welcome to Merryweather High” through “Heathering”
1. inconspicuous, 7
2. voila, 11
3. wan, 20
4. pseudo, 22
1. How does Melinda feel the first day of high school? Why do her fears seem more
intense than that of others? Analyze why she says, “I am Outcast.”
2. Examine the meanings of “clans” and the prevalence of high school cliques.
3. Identify Melinda’s former clan and explain what has happened to it.
4. Discuss the “first ten lies they tell you in high school.” Compare with the first-
day orientation in at NBHS. Is this true?
5. Who is Melinda’s ex-best friend? How does she treat Melinda? How would you
feel and what would you do in a similar situation?
6. Identify Melinda’s teachers and her characterization of them. What does this
7. Who is Heather? Identify her “plan” and explain Melinda’s reaction.
8. How does Mr. Freeman assign art projects for the year? What is Melinda’s?
How does she feel about it?
9. Describe Melinda’s home life.
Pages 24-46 “Burrow” through “Nightmare”
1. vague(ly), 27
2. simultaneous(ly), 30
3. mayhem, 30
4. blathers, 33
5. interim, 35
6. degrade(ing), 41
7. irony, 43
8. batter(ed) 43
1. Discuss Melinda’s “place of refuge” and how she describes it.
2. What happens to Melinda when she attends the pep rally? Why do you think she
doesn’t report the harassment to the school officials? Identify a time you or
someone you know had a similar experience.
3. What does Melinda reveal about the preceding summer?
4. Explain the paradox of the cheerleaders as Melinda views them.
5. What does Melinda paint the week after the pep rally? Why is this significant?
6. What happens when Melinda visits Heather on Columbus Day? What do you
think this reveals about Heather?
7. Contrast the homes and families of Heather and Melinda.
8. How do Melinda’s parents react about her grades? How would your parents react
in a similar situation?
9. Trace the significant events in Melinda’s life following the confrontation with her
10. Who are the Martha’s? Why are they important to the story? Are you or anyone
you know a “Martha?” Explain your answer.
11. What will happen between David Petrakis and the social studies teacher?
12. Analyze the significance of Melinda’s nightmare about IT. What does IT
13. Will Melinda continue to remain silent about what happened at the party?
Pages 49-68 “Go ___(Fill in the Blank)!” through “First Amendment, Second Verse”
1. harried, 57
2. obligation, 58
1. What does the social studies class debate? Why? Who challenges the teacher?
How do you feel about the teacher’s response?
2. Describe Thanksgiving Day at Melinda’s home. Explain why you agree or
disagree that her family’s interaction is symptomatic of a dysfunctional family.
3. Describe the art project Melinda creates from turkey bones. Why does she do
this? How do Mr. Freeman and Ivy react?
4. Who is David Petrakis? What significance do you think he has in Melinda’s life?
5. Explain the metaphor on p. 66, “Ninth grade is …a zit-cream commercial before
the Feature Film of Life.” Write your own metaphor about ninth grade.
Pages 69-92 “Wombats Rule!” through “Dark Art”
1. imperial, 69
2. vermilion, 78
3. oriented, 80
4. demented, 84
1. Analyze the Melinda’s statement about her parents, “I bet they’d be divorced by
now if I hadn’t been born.” What does this statement reflect about her self-
2. Explain how Melinda feels about Christmas. How does she spend her Christmas
vacation? Also examine Melinda’s references to her secret and what this reveals
about her relationship with her parents.
3. What athletic ability does Melinda reveal? How does the coach react and what is
Melinda’s response? Why do you think she feels this way? What is the
comparison she makes between basketball and life?
4. How would you describe the relationship between Heather and Melinda?
5. Who is IT? What effect does his appearance have on Melinda? What do you
think has happened that makes Melinda react so intensely?
6. Discuss the school conference with Melinda’s parents and the aftermath. What
about her suicide attempt? What does it indicate? What do you think about her
Pages 95-116 “Death of the Wombat” through “”Clash of the Titans”
1. conundrum, 98
2. imbecile(s), 103
3. vespiary, 104
1. What is the current name for the Merryweather mascot? Why has it been
changed? If you could change the name of your school mascot, what would it be?
2. How does Melinda react to the symbols in The Scarlet Letter, especially the
reference to Hester’s “A”? What do you think this reveals about Melinda?
3. What does Heather tell Melinda when she dissolves their friendship? How does it
affect Melinda? Explain how you would feel if a “friend” of yours did this.
4. What does Heather do as a “final blow” to Melinda? What does this cause
Melinda to do?
5. What happens to Melinda on Valentine’s Day? What two things cause the
conference with Melinda’s parents in the principal’s office? What do the adults
want Melinda to do? What does she do?
Pages 116-137 “Miss” through “A Night to Remember”
1. asylum, 117
2. vulnerable, 127
3. obsess, 133
4. gargoyle, 136
1. What is the result of the conference with Melinda’s parent? What is the most
traumatic result of this?
2. Who gives Melinda a ride to the store where her mother works? What does he tell
her just before they part? Do you think this is important?
3. What is Mr. Freeman’s effect on Melinda, inside and outside the art class? Do
you agree with the statement “When people don’t express themselves, they die
one piece at a time.”
4. How does Melinda view herself? (self-image) What are her survival techniques
after Heather’s rejection?
5. Why does Melinda refuse to go with David to his house after the ball game? How
does she feel? Why do you think she feels this way?
6. What happened to Melinda the night of the party? Why do you think she has
never told anyone?
Pages 141-168 “Exterminators” through “Real Spring”
1. momentum, 150
2. delinquency, 163
1. Explain the debate over the name of the school mascot.
2. Discuss the interaction between Melinda and Ivy.
3. Read over “Ten More Lies…” Do you agree or disagree?
4. What does Melinda learn about Rachel? How does she react? What does she
finally do? What would you do?
5. What does Melinda write her extra-credit report about? Explain why she does or
does not improve her grade. How do you feel about the teachers actions?
6. What happens when Andy Evens finds Melinda alone in the art room? What do
you think would have happened if Rachel had not appeared? What would you
have done if you were Melinda?
7. What happens when Melinda is home sick? Why is this significant?
8. Explain the significance of Melinda’s work in the yard.
9. How you feel about anonymous notes? Explain.
Pages 168-198 “Fault” through “Final Cut”
1. indoctrination, 172
2. symmetrical, 196
1. What does Melinda write on the bathroom wall? Why do you think this is
significant? How also does she begin to assert herself and find her “inner voice?”
2. Why does Heather come to Melinda’s house? What is the result? Why is this
3. What steps has Melinda taken to improve her life?
4. What happens when Melinda talks to Rachel? Describe the interaction between
Rachel and Melinda when Melinda tells her about the rape.
5. What does Ivy show Melinda in the girls’ bathroom? What does this tell you
about Andy Evans?
6. How does Melinda compare her survival with the diseased tree?
7. Explain what happens in the final confrontation between Melinda and Andy.
8. What happens in the denouement (resolution)? If you were Melinda would you
feel optimistic or pessimistic about your future?
9. What is the symbolism of Melinda’s final portrayal of her tree in art class?
SAMPLE TEST QUESTIONS
For each of the following questions be able to give specific examples and explain
1. Mr. Freeman tells his class, “You must walk alone to find your soul.” What does
2. Melinda’s father explains to her that the arborists are cutting off disease and
damage to make is possible for the tree to grow again. How can the pruning of
the tree be compared to Melinda’s life?
3. Please discuss a possible theme for the novel, citing examples and evidence from
4. Explain the conflicts presented in this novel. Please use specific examples from
5. How might Mr. Freeman’s last name be seen as a symbol in the novel? Are other
teachers’ names symbols or metaphors? Explain.
6. Discuss Melinda’s character before the summer party, during her freshman year,
and after her final confrontation with Andy, detailing how she grows and takes
back her power.