Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Harlequin Teen, 288 pages
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 cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during her best friend and resident queen bee’s party. She spills the secret, thinking that it would elevate her popularity but instead there were surprising and violent results — one that almost ended up killing someone. Guilt-ridden, Chelsea confesses what she knows and instantly became a social outcast. She takes on a vow of silence, thinking she wouldn’t cause anyone harm if she just won’t speak up, even if she gets bullied in school. Despite this silence, Chelsea meets new friends in school who accept her, and for the first time since everything happened, she wonders if she can finally move on.
I liked Hannah Harrington’s debut, Saving June, which I read earlier this year, so when I heard that her next book, Speechless, is available for request in Netgalley, I was one of the many people who requested it. I was curious with the idea of going silent on purpose — I am a very talkative person, so I’m not sure if taking on a vow of silence is something I can really do. I doubt it, actually, and that is why there is fiction! :P
I didn’t like Chelsea at first, and it was so bad that I almost gave up on the book. While I enjoyed mean girl novels such as Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are or Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Shirley Marr’s Fury, I am almost always annoyed at their sidekicks, because they’re usually the type of people who are mean on purpose because they want to be popular. Not that the popular girls aren’t mean on purpose sometimes, but in movies and books, the sidekicks are usually twice as annoying. Chelsea is exactly like that, and I really didn’t like her from the prologue and even early into the first chapters.
And then…somehow, she just grew on me. I find it really cool how Hannah Harrington made Chelsea a character who can say so much despite not having much of a dialogue in the book. The transition from an annoying mean girl sidekick to someone who’s pretty likeable is very good, and I find myself siding with Chelsea up to the end.
There were just several things that kind of niggled at me in the book: the span of time where Chelsea changed from being a selfish mean girl to someone who thinks outside of herself didn’t seem too believable, although I admit that silence can really make people think (I have tried that…several times, but not as long as Chelsea did in the book). I also wished that Chelsea chose to speak again for the first time in a different situation. I don’t know, somewhere more…monumental? I wasn’t that impressed with the scene where she finally broke her silence. Also, the supporting cast seemed a bit too traditional of the YA characters — the quirky crowd that people don’t often notice in school who just always seems cooler and would always save the day. Not that I minded them — I loved Asha and Sam and the rest of Chelsea’s new friends, and I love the diner set-up, but a part of me thinks the diner set-up has been done one too many times (that, or the diner crew in Bittersweet is still my favorite). On the upside, I think there’s a cameo of Jake and Harper in one of the scenes, so fans of Saving June would really like that. :)
But I think my favorite aspect of this book is really the romantic lead, Sam. I liked him way more than I liked Jake, but it may be because of my tendency to go for the good guys. And by “good”, I mean the guys who don’t really have too many issues in life. I liked how Chelsea started to get to know him and how she started liking him and how it didn’t really take much “speech” for the two of them to like each other. I especially liked how Chelsea said that she knew she didn’t have to say anything to keep him because she knows he understands…and it’s just…sweet. New fictional YA crush!
On a more personal note, I found that Speechless hit a few uncomfortable spots for me, mostly because I can really relate to the talkative, gossipy Chelsea. Sometimes, it just feels so fun to talk and gossip, and more often than not, I never really thought of the repercussions of it until later. So in a way, Speechless reminded me to watch what I say, and if unsure, just enter the silence and zip it.
Speechless by Hannah Harrington is definitely different from the author’s debut, but not in a bad way. It’s more of…this book is a less angsty, happier sibling of the previous novel. While I really liked Saving June, I think I liked Speechless just a tiny bit more. :) And yes, it may be just because of Sam. :P Overall, I know I will be looking forward to whatever Hannah Harrington comes up with next.
My copy: ebook from NetGalley