Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Hannah Harrington
Publication date: August 28th 2012
by HarlequinTeen

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.
*A copy was provided by Harlequin Teen for review purposes*

Can you imagine not speaking for days? Weeks? I have a hard time shutting up for a few hours. Chelsea, she gives a whole new meaning to the silent treatment when she decide to take a vow of silence after her big mouth basically ruins her life - or at least that's what she thinks.

After reading Saving June and getting to see how great an author Hannah is, I was highly anticipating her second novel, Speechless. Although not quite as emotionally intense as Saving June, it's a truly wonderful novel that looks into the highs and lows of high school social statuses, giving a great message to those who think everything is better on top of the ladder. Our lovely Chelsea feels immense guilt for spreading a secret that almost costs someone their life. I completely despised Chelsea at first. Being best friends with the most popular, stuck up girl in school gave her a surreal sense of self importance, a judgmental attitude, and an illusion of friendship that is saddening. Fortunately, Hannah is wonderful at creating characters who grow and mature throughout the story, with real in-depth personalities, which was no exception with Chelsea. She soon realizes that what she had, wasn't friendship; she begins to reevaluate herself, trying to find who she truly is, what's really important, and all the while not uttering a word.

Luckily, not everyone is blaming Chelsea, and she's making some new friends who become excellent secondary roles in the book. Unique and full of quirks, we get flawed, realistic characters who absolutely radiate with life. Even the bullies have genuine character presence. The romance is slow and sweet; there's a perfect balance of camaraderie and flirting with a guy who is understanding, kind, and completely worth it.

At first I did find the vow of silence a tiny bit unrealistic. How often in a conversation do you utter words out of habitual reflex - a simple "yeah" or "Uhuh"? Chelsea never seems to have a lot of trouble holding back. We do see her struggles when she's being verbally attacked, her not being able to defend herself or retaliate is undoubtedly frustrating, but I was expecting to have a stronger sense of the difficulties of this utter silence at all times. There is no way I could have stuck with it in her situation, being bullied, insulted, and ridiculed while vowing not to speak has to be insufferable and I loved being inside Chelsea's mind during these confrontations. I did enjoy the ending, though I can't help but feel it was a bit too... perfect. I would have liked to see more of the aftermath and long term consequences, which would have helped lessen the idealism of the story's ending, and give a stronger closure.

Conveying a sound message for adults as well as teens, Speechless touches on several social topics that a lot of people can relate to, and learn from. If you're already a fan of this author you won't be disappointed, and if this is your first venture in her works, I recommend you add Saving June to keep this one company on your shelf!

4 Hot Espressos

Curious on my thoughts on Saving June?