Book Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Title – Author: Speechless – Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Format – Source: Paperback – Library

Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. She loves to gossip with her best friend and the most popular girl in school, Kristen. That is, until one night she blurts out a secret that has terrible consequences. Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence to keep herself from making the same mistake again. Her silence isn’t easy, though, when everyone in school is talking about her and she’s being bullied by her former friends. New friends give her strength, and help her learn to forgive herself.

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I’m so tired of the pretty, popular girl troubles stories. When book club picked this one, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I was surprised to find out how much depth this story has.

Chelsea starts off as your typical popular mean girl. She gossips about everyone and says hurtful things, blindly following behind her bitchy best friend. What I liked about Chelsea was that even when she was deep into the popular crowd and afraid of upsetting her best friend, she still knew right from wrong. When she makes a mistake that almost costs someone his life, she tells the truth so that the people responsible can be punished for their actions. She goes against her friends’ wishes and loses a lot in the process: her social standing, her group of friends, and her self-esteem.

Her journey is a really interesting one. The vow of silence is the hook to the story, but it’s not what the story is all about. Chelsea’s story is really about living with the consequences of your actions and knowing when you’ve made a mistake and owning up to it.

What I like most about the story is that it doesn’t end with everything tied up perfectly. Chelsea acknowledges that she still has a long way to go, and she’s still learning. I loved how self-aware she was about the progress she made after her mistake and about the progress she still has to make. She finds out what really makes her happy and fights for it even when it’s not the cool thing to do, and for a teenager, that’s pretty impressive.

The book deals with a lot of heavy issues: homophobia, assault, bullying. I think the author does a good job of creating a story around these tough issues without making it melodramatic or unrealistic. How the events play out feels real.

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Speechless had surprising depth and a compelling writing style.

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6 – good but doesn’t have that wow factor – Mrs. Figg

Figg

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