RC Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Paperback: 288 Pages

Series: Standalone

Publisher: HarlequinTeen

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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.

You know how there are books that everyone’s extremely excited about and they all recommend them, but in the end, when you pick one up, it ends up disappointing you and you can’t understand what’s got people so hyped up? I’m glad to say, Speechless isn’t one of those books.  It delivers exactly what all the raving, glowing reviews and high ratings promise.

Chelsea Knot is a blabbermouth and a buttinski (Felicity taught me that’s not a made up word). Best friends with the most popular and desired girl in highschool, Kristen the blonde Queen B, she constantly feels the need to earn the right to be part of the popular clique by gossiping about everything and everyone, until one drunken night when her gossiping leads to someone ending up in the hospital and her having to make the right choice by ratting out to the cops. Because of that choice, her friends shun her and she becomes persona non grata over night.

I know, if you think you’re reading the script for Gossip Girl, season 1, then you’re making the same mistake I did. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Case in point, Speechless has a pretty simple, straight forward cover, not flashy or eye-catching, but the book is absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t think of a better cover choice myself.

I had problems at the beginning because of those similarities to GG and any other YA novel about a girl who’s no longer popular overnight, which made me think the book is neither here nor there. Also, I can’t say I liked Chelsea none too much.

She starts off as a shallow follower who loves the perks of her friendship with Kristen and the spotlight it gets her under. Even when she makes the right choice, she does it not because it’s the right thing to do, but because she can’t live with the alternative and then she constantly questions it. Because it made her supposed “friends”  shun her, it most not have been the right thing to do. She keeps agonizing about how speaking up wasn’t smart of her.

Safe to say, I didn’t like her and a unlikeable MC can put me off a book faster than anything.

Because she speaks up against friends and popular people, Chelsea’s being picked on, harassed, called names, and that made me feel sorry for her.

Her new group of friends – Asha, Sam, Dex, Lou and Andy – accept her without many questions, vow of silence and everything. I love them, every single one of them. The geeky Asha – who doesn’t know how to be mean to anyone, Andy – funny, sarcastic and no nonsense guy, Dex and Lou – probably the most endearing couple ever and sweet, sweet Sam.

Because of them, because of everything that happens to her, Chelsea starts changing, slowly but surely. Her transition, from bitch to human being, is masterfully done.

Harrington is a great storyteller with serious chops, but her strong point is characterization. Somewhere along the line, I fell in love with Chelsea’s character. I went from strongly disliking her to absolutely loving her. Such a fleshed-out and as real as they get character. Sure, she made a mistake, but she’s only human and she’s been enduring a lot and she’s sorry.

I got so engaged in the story, I felt such a rush and nearly had a heart attack when Chelsea started speaking again. I was reading and cheering for her at the same time. *go Chelsea, go Chelsea*

I love everything about Speechless, from the riveting, emotive writing, to the teen speak that was handled pretty well and never annoyed me, to Chelsea’s voice  – it’s a first person narrative, from Chelsea’s POV – with her humour and self deprecating jokes. It’s both a fun and an emotional read.

The romance, again, was written so well and read real to me. It’s believable, developes at a normal pace, it’s sweet and you just really want it for Chelsea.

My only real problem with this novel is that the main “villain”, Kristen, is pretty much absent. You meet her at the beginning of the novel, but the second she stops talking to Chelsea, she’s barely a secondary character. I wanted more of her, but I’m guessing her absence served a purpose. You don’t get to read about her anymore, instead you read about what her influence and how she uses it to cause Chelsea harm and pain.

Speechless is a fantastic book and one of my absolute favorite Contemporary YA novels. If you’re a YA fan, you should definitely read it.

*I received a RC from the publisher through Edelweiss. No money or favors were exchanged.

4 thoughts on “RC Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

  1. Sounds great! I must admit if I was looking for a book then the front cover wouldn’t really catch my eye. Serves me right for being so superficial about the covers of my books. 😛 I often find if I buy a book with a cover I don’t like, it stays on my shelf for so long before I read it. Lol.

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