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Speechless

Speechless

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Speechless

ratings:
4/5 (48 ratings)
Length:
290 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781459237902
Format:
Book

Description



Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

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

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silenceto 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 waypeople 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.

Publisher:
Released:
Sep 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781459237902
Format:
Book

About the author

Hannah Harrington resides in Michigan with one dog and too many cats. When she isn’t busy writing like a crazy person, she enjoys arguing about politics, watching documentaries, playing guitar (very badly), and speaking about herself in the third person. You can find her online at hannahharrington.blogspot.com, facebook.com/hannahharrington and on Twitter @hharrington_.


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Reviews

What people think about Speechless

4.1
48 ratings / 18 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    Speechless is a book about redemption, reckless behavior, false friendships, irrevocable mistakes and true, honest, and pure relationships/friendships. This book is a read for all. It is a story of life lessons and growth. I loved it! The characters were real and quite likable, well most. I liked the references to my favorite 80's movies and music. There's just not much I didn't like. My favorite characters all hang at Rosies'. I'd like to hang there too.

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review this book.
  • (5/5)
    I could not put it down, it reminded me of the bullying I went through in high school and how cruel girls could be. I could relate to the story.
  • (5/5)
    The book Speechless is about a girl named Chelsea Knot who isn't very good at keeping secrets until she reveals one person's secret that almost causes them to lose their life. She tells the secret of a boy named Noah who is gay, two boys, Warren and Joey, decide to teach him a lesson and beat him. Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence after this and her "friends" aren't very accepting of her after she turns Warren and Joey in. Chelsea meets new friends though who also happen to be Noah's friends. Chelsea is finally leading the life she really wants to live. The book was very good, it makes you think and you take away a good message from the book. I would reccomend it.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Speechless is my first book by Hannah Harrington, but it definitely won’t be my last. After breezing through this story of a girl whose penchant for divulging secrets almost gets someone killed I’ve decided Harrington is on my must-read list. While not without its faults, Speechless is one of my favorite books this year and definitely one I’ll be reading again and again (I’ve already read it twice this month!).

    When Chelsea Knot exposes one secret too many, two teenagers end up under arrest while a third is in a hospital fighting for his life. Devastated by what has happened, she takes a vow of silence to avoid any further tragedies, but soon finds herself on the receiving end of a concentrated attack of bullying and harassment from her former friends who blame her for the arrests. When Chelsea is taken under the wing of a new friend, freshman Asha, she begins to question who she really is – and what is worth fighting for.

    In all the books I’ve read this year, I think Chelsea is probably the character who experiences the most growth. She questions everything she has done – from revealing the secret to taking the story to the police – and has many moments of doubt and uncertainty. Yet she keeps moving forward, stubborn and determined to prove that she can be a better person than she was in the past. Along the way she finds out the type of person she doesn’t want to be and makes great strides in becoming who she wants to be. I absolutely loved Chelsea’s character development and the opportunities it opened up for her with new friends and a new romance.

    All the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. It intrigued me that it was the friends of the boy who is almost killed who end up taking Chelsea in, supporting her against the bullying in school and recognizing how she is trying to change. Asha, especially, is a great character with her big heart, math smarts, and love of knitting. She is joined in greatness by the owners of Rosie’s Diner, Dex and his girlfriend Lou, who give Chelsea a place to feel safe outside of her home. Even the bullies are developed, including Chelsea’s former best friend Kristen (a gorgeous mean girl) and Derek and Lowell (two basketball players). All three of them do everything they can to make Chelsea miserable, and I was a little nervous about how far they would go.

    And then there is Sam – best friends with the boy who has been hospitalized, friend to Asha, and Chelsea’s new art project partner. He listens to NPR, reads actual books (!?!), and knows how to make a mean tuna melt. He is also protective about those he cares about, such as Asha – he emphasizes to Chelsea what a good person she is and how he doesn’t want her hurt if Chelsea isn’t serious about being her friend. I really liked this about him; that he isn't immediately drawn to Chelsea and that their relationship builds gradually as they are thrown together with Asha at Rosie’s Diner and through art class. It was very cute, too, how Chelsea recognized the differences between them and how concerned she was that they didn’t have enough in common to have a long-term relationship.

    And now for those faults. The biggest problem I had with Speechless was actually a logistical problem regarding high school. When Chelsea decides to take her vow of silence and shows up with a note for her teachers advising them of the vow, my first thought was, “How is she going to get through a language class?” Chelsea is a sophomore in high school, and every high school I know requires a language class; it’s even mentioned that she switched from French to Spanish at one point so she could take the class with Kristen. Yet, now, she is apparently not studying any languages since it is never mentioned again.

    I was also bothered by the fact that she didn’t want to tell her parents the reason behind her silence and get them on board so they could help her navigate the pitfalls of school. Having parental support – or at least attempting to get it – seems like a logical move. Lastly, it really felt like Chelsea and all the teenagers involved should be juniors or seniors instead of sophomores; everyone came across as older than the 15- to 16-year-olds they would be as sophomores. While all of these points nagged at me a little, none of them was enough to throw me out of the story; I was too caught up in the characters and plot to put it down.

    Speechless is a fascinating story of a young girl whose inability to keep a secret leads to tragedy and the attempt she makes to turn her life around as a result. Chelsea’s vow of silence uncovers a new path, with supportive friends and a romance with one of the last boys she ever expected. Even with its faults, Hannah Harrington has crafted a story that is engaging, thought-provoking, and addictive with a lead character who shows tremendous growth. Speechless is a keeper.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret. Everyone in school knows it. She's cute and best friends with one of the most popular girls in school, Kristen. Automatically cool and popular by association, Chelsea takes full advantage of her status and tries to keep Kristen happy even if it means belittling herself a bit. During a party, Chelsea sees something shocking and immediately tells the popular crowd. Some guys take it upon themselves to attack the person involved as a result. She tells the police and the guilty party is in the process of being punished, but Chelsea now faces ridicule and hate at every turn. Her classmates either hate her for telling the secret in the first place and generally being a blabbermouth or for getting star athletes arrested. Chelsea takes a vow of silence because she hurt so many people with her words. It's hard to stay silent when constantly attacked, but she makes some surprising new friends and finds out about who she is and who she wants to be.Speechless is a good contemporary teen book about making mistakes and having the courage to do what you like and be yourself. I really enjoyed seeing Chelsea's journey throughout the novel, but she starts off as pretty terrible. She tells everyone's secrets to her best friend Kristen and then figures out how to make it work the most in their favor, either through blackmail or by spreading the secret to everyone at school. When she takes her vow of silence and all her friends abandon her, it becomes apparent that she really doesn't know who she is. The person she pretended to be took over her whole life, causing her to wear clothes she didn't like, do things she hated, and mold herself to another's liking. With no one to care or impress, she struggles to find out who she really is underneath it all. Her vow of silence allows her to view the world in a vastly different way than she did before. She sees the effect of words and experiences first hand how words can really hurt people. I like that this is bullying from the perspective of the bully because this is rarely seen in teen books.One aspect I really liked was portraying the toxic relationship between Chelsea and Kristen. The friendship was always completely one sided with Kristen being the most important person while Chelsea accepts that she isn't good enough as herself and changes in accordance to Kristen's whims. I have personally been in two of such relationships that started normally enough, but ended this way. I don't see this type of relationship portrayed in teen books very often and it hit home for me. Chelsea's classmates' behavior just blew my mind. Two star athletes were arrested because of their own actions, but Chelsea's testimony was integral to catching them. They blamed Chelsea for the whole situation instead of those boys for acting heinously. That mentality is crazy to me, but unfortunately not unrealistic.Speechless is a moving contemporary read that feels honest and realistic. The writing made me breeze through it easily, but the subject matter and emotions proved to make it more profound than a fluffy read. I would definitely read more books by Hannah Harrington.
  • (2/5)
    I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what to say about Speechless. Which is hilariously punny, if I do say so myself.

    But in all honesty, I really am struggling. Speechless was well-written and aptly paced, and held my attention so much that I couldn't put it down. However, I did struggle with some of the messages and themes, and the main character Chelsea sure did grate on me.

    In the same vein as Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Speechless starts out with a shallow, vapid, popular girl. Chelsea is no different than most of the mean girls we read about in YA lit: she is mean, obsessed with popularity, and the right-hand man to the resident Evil Bitch. Presumably, Chelsea would go through changes and begin to grow as a character; she would learn that material things are not important, that what people think of you matters not, and that high school is not the end of the world. This is where Harrington fails to live up to Oliver's standards.

    In Speechless, Chelsea is the queen of gossip. She is the girl that knows about things so quickly, it's like she knows before it even happens. She's like A in Pretty Little Liars, or Gossip Girl from the series of the same name. She knows everything about everyone, and isn't afraid to use those secrets to her advantage. The book opens up with Chelsea manipulating two friends against each other, and to be honest, I don't think Chelsea really grows from this stage.

    Then Chelsea reveals the most dangerous secret she could have. She outs a boy named Noah to her drunk and disorderly jock-type friends. They proceed to beat Noah to a pulp and put him in the hospital. After this, Chelsea is horrified and in a glimmer of a shard of an idea of decency, tells the police who did it. This leaves her on the outs with her best friend and the rest of the popular crowd. Because she finds herself in such a position, all because of her big fat mouth, she takes a vow of silence.

    In my opinion, she does this for all the wrong reasons. Because she's not popular anymore? Because she ruined those kids' lives by ratting on them to the cops? No. Just NO. Chelsea spends very little time actually worrying about Noah, the real victim here. Instead she just whines and complains for some 200 pages, while all of Noah's friends love her and forgive her, and she effectively takes his place at his job. By the end of the book, she's snagged herself some friends, employment, and boyfriend, while Noah is in the hospital for most of the time, and when he isn't, he's in a wheel chair.

    This book was written from the wrong perspective. Chelsea is not to blame for what those bullies did to Noah, I know that. But she's so self-centered that she can't see past her own misfortunes. I think Harrington did a real disservice to potential readers for taking the easy way out and writing from a bully's point of view. Had this story be written in Noah's or Noah's boyfriend's head, it would have been so much better. We could see more clearly the negative effects of bullying, and what it takes to heal and move on from that.

    So while I do think that Speechless will reach people, with it's quirky, funny narrative, and the wonderful characters Chelsea meets after Noah's bashing, I don't think it will be as effective as it could be. Chelsea still has some of the same major flaws she had in the beginning (she was very judgmental and snotty.) and not much attention was paid to the real victim. This book trivializes bullying in a major, offensive way.

    I would still recommend it though, to fans of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall.


    Edited to add: I saw a copy of this in the wild the other day and I wanted to say I love the design. The cover is so pretty in its simplicity, and the texture up close is gorgeous. I wish I liked this; I would definitely buy a copy of it if I did, even if just for the design.
  • (5/5)
    THERE IS SOMETHING AMAZING THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU READ A BOOK THAT BOTH SPEAKS TO YOU AND MOVES YOU AT THE SAME TIME. SPEECHLESS IS ABOUT THE POWER AND CONSEQUENCES OF WORDS, BOTH SPOKEN AND WRITTEN. HARRINGTON WRITES WITH SUCH RAW TRUTH AND EXPOSES THE HARSHNESS OF BULLYING, GOSSIP AND HATE CRIMES. I WAS INSTANTLY PULLED INTO CHELSEA'S WORLD AND IT TOOK SUCH HOLD OF ME THAT I FINISHED THE BOOK IN ONE DAY. THIS IS A STORY THAT NEEDS TO BE READ, BY EVERYONE. NOT ONLY WILL YOU FEEL COMPELLED TO SHARE THIS READ WITH OTHERS, BUT YOU WILL BE COMPELLED TO BE THE ACTION AND THE CHANGE. I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS NOVEL AND I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT ELSE HARRINGTON IS GOING TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD! 5 STARS!
  • (5/5)
    Mean girls. We've all seen or dealt with them in school. In the words of School House Rock, knowledge is power, and Chelsea collects all of the information about people that she can. Then her and her friends spread these rumors like wildfire and systematically humiliate the other students in their school. It keeps them popular, because no one wants to be on the bad side of the kids who could potentially ruin your life. At first I wasn't so sure about Chelsea, because she seemed to thrive on spreading gossip and behaved like those people deserved whatever they got. She was kind of a bitch, but not completely unredeemable. When she tells a pretty big secret at a party, she almost instantly regrets it and tries her hardest to convince everyone it's not a big deal and to leave it alone. After it ends up getting someone seriously hurt, Chelsea doesn't ever want to be responsible for spreading peoples secrets again. So she takes a vow of silence. Kind of genius, in my opinion.Her vow started out a little selfish at first, while she didn't want to be responsible for anyone else getting hurt, she was more concerned about what she lost as a result of what she said. She really just wanted her friends and her status back, but as her ex-friends wage war against her, she starts to realize that maybe being a part of that group was never really something she enjoyed. Asha and Sam are two kids that decide to take a chance on Chelsea and give her a place to belong again. I think Asha is the most genuine character I have ever read. She sees the good in everything and believes people always deserve a chance. Asha accepted Chelsea almost immediately, vow of silence and all, and never let her spend too much time thinking about what happened. Sam is just excellent. He's a little nerdy and a lot swoonworthy, such a nice guy who befriends Chelsea despite some very big reasons not to. I loved Hannah Harrington's debut Saving June and I was so excited for Speechless, well it didn't disappoint! This one has a whole different vibe to it, but I think it was just as excellently written. I urge everyone to pick it up and give it a read! Definitely a new favorite :0)
  • (5/5)
    “Words matter–how we use them and how we don’t.”Chelsea learned the hard way. Her words almost ended up killing a fellow classmate. When she outed a boy at a party, her “friends” decided to beat him and send him to the hospital. Her conscience made her rat out those friends and all hell broke loose. Due to the incident and her actions, she decided to take a vow of silence which changes her life forever.This is a frightening, true-to-life, story that we see way too often in our world and Ms. Harrington, again, finds a very real way of bringing this raw view of bullying, peer pressure and friendships into the 21st century. The story is riveting and the characters are well-developed and engaging. A must-read for young and old alike.Thank you to Ms. Harrington, Harlequin and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
  • (4/5)
    After reading the synopsis, I was a little like "ehhh" kind of sounds like a weird premise. I mean really, what high school girl you know would really decide to take a vow of silence? But then after reading and finding out the event that caused it, I see exactly why. What happens is heart breaking. Many people don't see the effect that society has on teens, but this story shows just that. This story tells just how "important" your peer's opinion is. Chelsea has had the biggest mouth in her grade since she can remember. Any news she got, she spread it. Which is the reason her best friend is the most popular girl in school. But then one night something happens and Chelsea is scared into silence. Because she did the one thing that no one else would do.... She was brave. I can absolutely relate to this book because being only 23 I still remember being in high school and how everyone acted. I can truly say it was portrayed as a modern day high school. For this reason, I LOVED the characters. They were easy for me to connect with and I understood they were acting that way because of immaturity.tt As for the romance in this novel, it kind of unexpected for me. I knew it to be a contemporary romance and that eventually she would fall for someone, but I honestly thought it would be someone else. It was actually a bit of a surprise when the secret came out. It was quite refreshing to have it be them. Speechless is a tale of growth, friendship, and love. It will leave you thinking about the bigger issue it covers long after you turn the last page.
  • (5/5)
    Chelsea Knot loved her life, loved gossiping, loved telling secrets and enjoyed her status as second string to her best bud Kristen which made her the second most popular girl in the sophomore class at Grand Lake High, but most of all she loved spilling secrets and watching the results. Until the secret she spilled at a New Year’s Eve party changed her life, the lives of those around her and almost cost a life. As a result of a decision she makes and acts on she goes from popular to pariah, her friends abandon and wrong her and she takes a vow of silence since it seems when she opens her mouth people get hurt. She also looks in a new social direction that would have seemed as alien as the Martian landscape to the old Chelsea but seems to fit the new one. The lessons life are teaching her are not painless, seeking redemption does not always get the result you wish for and asking for forgiveness sometimes starts by asking it of yourself.This is the perfect choice to start Bully Prevention Month and Hannah’s storytelling made this lesson easy to read even if the actions of a few were shameful. Her storyline of learning social conscience is expertly told and enriched this very adult palate as well as it would a much younger one. Her characters are realistically likeable and disgraceful where appropriate and her protagonist Chelsea could be any girl/boy USA and in fact in one way or anther probably mirrors each of us at one time in our life or another. The message is clear, get along, know, live and teach tolerance. There is a quote from the book that really said it all page 245 “Hate is…it’s too easy,” he says. His face is calm, calmer than it has any right to be, his eyes not wavering from mine, like he’s so completely sure of what he’s saying. “Love. Love takes courage.” The right thing is not always the easier path but it’s always the right one.Thank you for this beautiful voice against violence and hate, I can’t wait to see where you take us next.
  • (4/5)
    Speechless is a bildungsroman (coming of age story) in the truest sense of the word. Chelsea literally grows before the reader's eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her transform from a bratty mean girl into an actual human being. While she was annoying at times, she was real. Every character in the story was realistic, unique, and flawed. There isn't a ton of action in this story, but I still couldn't stop turning the pages. I had to know what happened to Chelsea. This is one book that you don't want to miss. Chelsea is the narrator of the book, and while she's difficult to trust in some ways, I knew she was telling the truth right off the bat. She isn't shy about disclosing mistakes she made or that others made. I really didn't like her for the first half of the book, but once she started maturing, she really grew on me. My dislike for her during the first half of the book is what made me rate this novel a B instead of an A. I didn't enjoy the first half because I wanted to smack Chelsea, but I still had to see what ended up happening to her. I wanted to know if she'd turn into an actual human or stay a brat forever. Also, I am completely in love with Sam, and Asha is a fun character, too. Everyone at the diner is terrific. I enjoyed getting to know all of these unique characters. Harrington did a terrific job of creating realistic, flawed characters. The plot is pretty heavy handed with some social issues, and I have to admit that I'm glad Harrington chose to address these problems. Harrington illustrates what happens when hate and bigotry run amok. Hate crimes are never okay, and she makes that point very clear. She also addresses bullying and the problem of athletics in schools. Overall, this is a pretty deep book, and it really makes you think. I'm so glad that dialogues have opened about these issues now and that people are talking about them. That's the only way to change things. The plot is pretty steady, and the pacing is excellent. There is no "big reveal" or "action scene" because there is no mystery, and this book isn't an action-filled story. However, there does come a time when Chelsea is forced to face her demons, and that's a very intense point in the novel. Even though there is no action, this book was still an emotional read for me, and I wasn't bored for a second. I literally couldn't put this book down. Be prepared to lose some sleep with this one. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone. It opens up a dialogue about things that need to be discussed, and it shows that sometimes a person has to do what's right, even if it means losing everything they thought they loved. This is a wonderful coming of age story, and it cannot be missed.
  • (4/5)
    When you read this book, be prepared to have it rattle your emotions. Written so explicitly well, this story will steal your heart.Obviously it is the plot that totally rocks! What happens when something you said takes an unexpected turn? It causes anger and almost death. WOW! Let me tell you that this girl took a lot. I mean A LOT! Some of the things that are done to her, said to her...it got me so angry! I just couldn't understand these people ignorance. But then again, that's what happens in high school. People are small minded and do not understand the impact that those things can have.There wasn't so much of a love interest but there are some amazing friendships that are established. I really enjoyed watching some friends come along to give her chance and know her. Even though they heard rumors, I loved that they didn't care what others thought. They were selfish in any of their actions despite what Chelsea.I think the greatest lesson in this book is to SPEAK UP! Despite what your beliefs are, of who you are, nobody deserves to be bullied. PERIOD. Speechless is an amazingly raw book. Fresh and unique, Speechless depicts the acts of human idiocy. The horror of single secret let out into a world of bullies make me shutter. If you truly want to dive into a world of selfish people, read Speechless. It will change your heart.
  • (3/5)
    In Speechless, a contemporary young adult novel, author Hannah Harrington explores the consequences for sixteen year old Chelsea Knot when she thoughtlessly reveals a secret that leads to the vicious beating of a fellow classmate. Sharing idle gossip, rumour and innuendo once ensured her status as a member of her high school's most exclusive clique but identifying the boys responsible for the assault makes Chelsea a pariah. Guilt stricken, Chelsea takes a vow of silence, reasoning that it's best for everyone if she doesn't talk at all.The strength of Speechless lies with it's protagonist, Chelsea, and her development from a self centered, shallow, mean girl into a mature, caring individual. The first person point of view allows the reader to connect to what Chelsea is thinking and feeling as she navigates her new social reality while her vow of silence ensures the author is able to keep the focus on Chelsea's internal journey. Chelsea isn't aware of how much of her identity she had compromised in order to remain Kristen's best friend until she is exiled from the group. She wore whatever Kristen approved off, behaved the way the Kristen expected and focused on catering to the needs of her 'best friend' almost to the exclusion of everything else. In the wake of the attack on Noah, freed from the confines of the clique's expectations, Chelsea begins to discover who she is, and who she wants to be.I particularly liked that the consequences for Chelsea were realistic. Exiled from the popular group she becomes a target of their bullying and the rest of the school population has little sympathy for the former 'mean girl'. That the consequences seep into her father's life is perhaps a little bit of a stretch but then given the behaviour of their children it is hardly any surprise the parents are no better.Chelsea's journey is supported by a blossoming friendship with Ash and Sam. I admire both for their willingness to reach out to, and forgive Chelsea, though as friends of Noah they would have been within their rights to ignore her. Kristen and her friends are fairly typical representations of the power clique familiar from high school, privileged, petty and self involved. I did like that moment when Chelsea quietly confronts Kristen with the truth that the boys are responsible for their fates.Speechless explores the issues of friendship, bullying, personal responsibility and self acceptance in a manner that is sure to appeal to teens. It is an entertaining read but with a serious message at its core and will hopefully get teens thinking.
  • (3/5)
    Chelsea Knot has clawed and climbed and gossiped her way up to the top of her school’s social chain. But her reign as the queen bee’s best friend takes a shocking, dizzying fall when Chelsea’s post-party decision has the entire school jumping at the chance to alienate her.Well, not quite the entire school. Despite her self-imposed vow of silence, Chelsea befriends Asha and several other classmates she’s never spoken to before, who all work at the diner in town. And one of her new friends, Sam, is utterly too cute and sweet. But has Chelsea finally learned her lesson this time about knowing when and when not to speak, and what she’s going to speak up for?Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, was my delightful surprise of 2011, so I had high expectations for her sophomore novel, SPEECHLESS. And while I didn’t like SPEECHLESS as much as I did Saving June, it was still an uplifting and quick YA contemporary read.SPEECHLESS’ strength lies in its treatment of its protagonist, Chelsea. There is no doubt that Chelsea is a mean girl at the beginning of the book, so caught up in the dangerous thriller of being the first to find and spread gossip, and yet we readers undoubtedly see the potential she has in her for good. And yeah, okay, this is kind of the way that protagonists have to be—they have to arouse our empathy in order for us to want to invest in their journey—but Chelsea is, really, likable. She has a very relatable reaction to her changing social position at her high school, but she has an inner strength that we can admire: this is not a girl who will dissolve into a spineless, quivering, tearful mess in the face of extreme challenges.That being said, the predictability of the rest of the story made this only a mediocre read for me. SPEECHLESS follows a very basic YA contemporary story format, complete with a budding romance that readers can call from the love interest’s first appearance on the page. While Chelsea’s situation is no doubt cringe-inducing—she’s forced to suffer at the hands of some truly heartless school bullies—it’s all written about in a very straightforward manner, so that you can anticipate everything that’s about to happen. While I don’t always require oodles of surprises and utter originality in my reads, the elements of this book just all felt very…safe to me, and thus ultimately forgettable.SPEECHLESS’ reformed protagonist, golden-hearted supporting characters, and predictably sweet romance are nothing new in this genre, but sometimes that’s the kind of read you seek. If so, you can’t go wrong with Hannah Harrington’s well-intentioned books.
  • (5/5)
    4½ stars/5 starsSource: NetGalleyWhen I found Hannah Harrington’s novel Speechless at NetGalley I actually wondered “How good can a book about a teenage girl who takes a vow of silence really be?” The simple answer: extremely good! Speechless is a cautionary tale of just how damaging words and gossip can be. Chelsea Knot is the central character and she is, without doubt, a bitch. Chelsea has gossiped her way to the top of her high school’s social ladder and she doesn’t care who she hurts or how she hurts them as long as she maintains her position. Chelsea wields gossip like a weapon without ever stopping to think how her words, true or otherwise, can tear apart another person’s life. And then one Friday night Chelsea discovers how her chosen weapon can not only backfire but have tragic consequences for others. One student is in the hospital in a coma and two others are accused of beating that student into the coma. Chelsea knows none of this would have ever happened if she just could have kept her big mouth shut!To Chelsea’s credit, she does do the right thing and with the help of her parents she tells the police everything she knows about the beating, how it happened and who was involved. Chelsea understands that by doing the right thing it will cost her everything she holds so dear: her friends, her social standing, and thanks to her vow of silence, her voice. Yes, a teenage girl takes a vow of silence – hell hath frozen over! I really wondered how Harrington could pull off a novel where the main character doesn’t actually speak. Turns out, inner monologue can be quite fun and can very easily keep a character moving and developing. Chelsea spends a little more than a month honoring her vow of silence and it is during this month that she discovers what she once held so dear was not ever really worth holding on to at all. Her old “friends” lash out at Chelsea for ratting out two of their own: she is taunted, teased, her locker and car are vandalized, and she becomes a social pariah.Initially, I found it very, very, very hard to feel any semblance of sympathy for Chelsea. Her words and actions caused the mess she and others find themselves in and she should rightfully face the consequences of those actions. I really didn’t want to like Chelsea but in the end, she surprised me! I honestly don’t think I would have been able to change my opinion about Chelsea if she were using her actual voice and not her inner monologue. In her own head Chelsea acknowledges and faces many hard facts and realities about herself and her actions. She learns words mean something and once out there, they cannot be taken back. Chelsea begins to consider her words more carefully and when she does need to communicate (using a dry erase board) she thinks before she “speaks”. Chelsea soon discovers that her vow of silence has some pleasant consequences to go along with the bad. She meets a few other social outcasts and while everyone is initially wary of one another the group finally comes together and Chelsea begins to understand what it is to have true friends. Chelsea also begins to understand that, like everyone else, she is human, has flaws, and will make mistakes. Once Chelsea understands and appreciates these revelations she is able to once again use her voice.The bottom line: Speechless is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time and I really had no trouble getting through this book in short order. The plot is solid, the characters (both good and bad) show development and growth throughout, and the overall message that words matter is clear without being preachy. I can absolutely see this book appealing to a wide range of readers including more mature young adults and adults alike.
  • (2/5)
    When I read the summary of Speechless I was left wanting to know more. I mean, we've all been there, right? Either spreading the gossip or being the target of spread gossip. It's heartbreaking what simple words can put into motion, but especially in today's world of bullying, it's something we need to be oh-so-aware of.So in Speechless, Hannah Harrington addresses what happens when someone blurts out something that is someone else's intimate secret. She illustrates exactly how it begins, set into motion, and how it spirals to something worse. And then, she explored the clean-up.That clean-up is where things began to fall apart a little for me.For being a book about a secret, an awful big fuss was made about the person who spilled the secret, and very little information was given about the one who was hurt by it. I understand that the story was intended to center around Chelsea Knot, and her inability to keep a secret and subsequent vow of silence, but there was a lot of pity-partying and wallowing in guilt on Chelsea's part and even more focus on making sure she was the one able to laugh, love, and move on with her life.But the victim of her secret-telling? Oh, he just gets to make a cameo appearance.And that, my friends, is not how a book dealing with this subject should be treated. About halfway through, although entertained enough to keep reading, I found myself increasingly unable to sympathize, or even be happy, for Chelsea. I had enough of her - I wanted to know what happened to her victim, how he was handling things, how he was dealing with forgiveness/anger/despair/hurt/pain. Is this how books dealing with bullying and gossip-mongering should be dealt with? Do we really need to glorify the person doing them other than give them the means to make amends and then let them do it, end of story? I wanted to love Speechless. I was anxiously looking for a story on bullying that I could give to boys and girls around me who are dealing with this very real subject matter. But ultimately, I was disappointed in the route taken to get to the end.
  • (4/5)
    so far loving this book. parts are slow, not as good, but I have to say when the book hits the mark its right up there with my favorites. There are places that are just laugh out loud funny, that sustain you through the hum drums...Loved this book. It was funny, cleverly written. I wanted to yell at Libby for being confused about Richard or Tim. But then I think back to when I faced the dilemna of good vs evil and chose poorly.