Speechless — Hannah Harrington

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Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

Chelsea Knot is known as the school’s biggest gossip. Not only does she spread gossip like wildfire, but she does so vindictively to please her best friend, Kristen Courteau, their high school’s resident princess. During a New Year’s Eve party, Chelsea sees something she shouldn’t and quickly shares the news with Kristen and her boyfriend, Warren. But Warren and his basketball buddies react negatively to the gossip and, in sharing, Chelsea condemns another student to near-death. When Chelsea realizes the horrific effect her words have on people, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends turn against her and finding new friends becomes nearly impossible when everyone hates or judges her. And now, Chelsea’s on the receiving end of Kristen’s bullying. This story is a lesson in learning just how hard doing the right thing can be.

Oh. My. God. Breathtaking. I’d heard great things about Speechless for awhile and I enjoyed Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, so I knew it was only a matter of time until I picked up her second book. But despite all the positive reviews, I still wasn’t prepared to fall as in love with Speechless as I did. Believe me when I say all of the hype is 100% justified. Even those of you who don’t particularly enjoy contemporaries will love Speechless for it’s message and it’s strong characters. I’m a dialogue-lover; a bad book can keep my attention until the very end if the dialogue is witty and realistic, so I was a little skeptical about picking up a book where the main character takes a vow of silence, but Harrington pulls this off flawlessly. I didn’t mind Chelsea’s speechlessness at all. In fact, I was riveted by her inner thoughts and self-reflection. Chelsea undergoes such a remarkable transformation; she learns so much about herself, the people around her, and the way our actions and words affect those around us.

Every scene in Speechless is ridiculously emotionally potent. Harrington tackles tough, all-too-real topics. While in the middle of reading, I couldn’t help bringing Speechless into every day conversations. It breaks my heart that the events in this book actually take place in our world, though I know they do. But I commend Harrington for bringing attention to these topics and opening the floor for discussion. And I’m just so grateful to her for giving us Chelsea, a girl willing to stand up against what’s wrong and to make a change in her community. Chelsea is such an admirable character. I LOVE that she refuses to back down. My favorite moment of hers is when she confronts Lowell at the vending machine. I am so tired of passivity in books these days, and when Chelsea marched up to Lowell, I was rooting for her to punch him. Yeah, yeah, I know. Violence is never the answer. But some kids just really do need a good smack across the face. I definitely would’ve smacked him. But Chelsea displays remarkable control and maturity in her handling of the situation, and I was rooting for her the whole time. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of a YA heroine before, and that’s saying a lot, given my loyalty to Katniss, Caelina, Lena, and a host of others. Chelsea sticks up for herself and others with a poise I certainly didn’t possess in high school. She’s just fantastic.

In addition, stick any of my favorite characters in a new job at one of the cool town locals and you’ve already ensured my undying love. This has always been one of my favorite aspects of any Sarah Dessen novel: getting to know the new coworkers that become your family at job that becomes a second-home. And Chelsea’s job as a dishwasher/busser at Rosie’s is no different. Harrington gives us a phenomenal cast of characters with Asha, Sam, Andy, Dex, and Lou. Doesn’t seeing all their names together like that just bring a smile to your face? You know that’s going to be a fun group of people. And these are good people. Loyal friends, friends with convictions and opinions instead of cookie-cutter, formulaic characters. Every character in this book simply shines.

The amount of strength portrayed in this book is reason enough to pick it up. I was so thrilled that Chelsea had to strength to visit Noah and to seek closure with Kristen when everything was said and done. These are the scenes I often yearn for in YA novels, but never see. I think this book is so, so important for teens and adults alike to read. Plus, despite being unable to talk, Chelsea still manages a ton of sass and the romance Speechless is super sweet. It literally gave me butterflies. Speechless is a home-run and I can’t wait to see what Harrington comes up with next. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Kody Keplinger will be especially taken with this knock-out of a novel.

Pages: 288
Publication Date: August 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Edelweiss
Rating [rating: 5]

Teaser Quote: “Listening to Eminem makes me feel like a badass. Or at least as though I have the potential for badassery. I mean, the way he sings, it’s like he’d probably punch out a puppy if it looked at him wrong. Obviously I’m not glorifying animal cruelty here, I’m just saying, I could use some of that attitude. It’s better than the attitude I have now of just letting everyone mess with me all the time.

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