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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Release Date: Aug. 28, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
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.

Speechless was exactly what I was expecting. Hannah Harrington weaves a strong and serious tale about the importance of words and the power they hold.  As a girl who has had her own troubles with secrets in the past, I related to Chelsea throughout the novel, and I absolutely understand her urge to keep her mouth shut.

While she didn’t win me over from the beginning, Chelsea Knot grows on you pretty swiftly.  She finds out a secret about someone she barely knows, drunkenly blabs it to her popular crowd friends, and a certain group of those popular boys take matters into their own hands in the very worst way.  From her introduction as the token yes-girl to the most popular (read: meanest) girl in school, I thought she’d be just another follower.  Turns out, she makes a choice (albeit, a bit of a late one) to do the right thing, and from there, she decides she needs to learn when it’s okay to speak.  Inspired by an article in National Geographic regarding a vow of silence, she decides to do the same: to begin her own vow of silence so she can concentrate on the importance of her words.

I must say, hands down, I loved Chelsea’s new Diner Crowd friends far, far more than any of those other folks she used to call her friends.  These are exactly the kind of people I would have wanted to hang out with when I was in high school.  There were times when they seemed almost too perfect in their zaniness, but that’s just what Chelsea needed to see.  Since she’d been part of the It Crowd for so many years, it’s a new concept to see how the other half lives.  I like that she takes it in stride, that she appreciates Asha and Andy and definitely Sam for being themselves when that’s often the hardest thing to be.  Of course, I really enjoyed her arc with Sam-- meeting him, doing their art project together, and slowly but surely falling for him.  Nothing quite like a boy who’s funny and who makes a mean tuna melt.  Aside from the utter cuteness factor, her time with the Diner Crowd gives great insight into the ramifications of her secret-telling as well.

Speechless centers on bullying, not only the bullying Chelsea receives for turning in her former friends, but the bullying Asha and most especially Nathan receive simply for being different. It’s the kind of story that’s important to tell, and Harrington maintains a healthy balance of stating the facts without inundating you in the issues.  While it doesn’t get as dark and twisty as some of the similar stories before it, Harrington keeps up the pace so the reader is never bored.  It’s a fairly quick read, and those flying pages pack a lot of punch.

I would recommend Speechless to anyone looking for a page-turner of a book with lots of heart.  Words matter, and Chelsea needed to learn that lesson for herself.  This journey is worth taking.

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