Saturday, October 3, 2015

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

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.

I read Hannah Harrington’s Saving June maybe a year or so ago, and I loved it. So of course I looked up the author and tried to find out if she’d written any other books. But when I looked at Speechless, I was . . . skeptical, to say the least. I can be really picky when it comes to books, and I didn’t think I’d like the main character in this one, so I decided to pass on it and move on.
But I’d been going through kind of a book drought (basically, I couldn’t find anything to read because I’m so picky), so I decided to give this one a try because I like Harrington’s writing style. Now I really wish I hadn’t passed on it when I first looked at it.
Writing about a so-called “mean girl” (not quite the “On Wednesdays we wear pink” mean girls, but still sort of mean), even a former one like Chelsea, is risky. Sometimes the reader won’t enjoy the story as much if they don’t like the main character.
As predicted, Chelsea isn’t entirely likeable. She makes bad decisions, sometimes with good intentions and sometimes with bad ones. It would be easy to hate her if Harrington hadn’t developed her so carefully and thoroughly. She’s definitely a round character, with many different sides to her. Even though she makes choices that I don’t agree with, Harrington makes sure that the reader at least understands Chelsea’s reasons.
The whole not-speaking thing isn’t an entirely new topic. There’s The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, Until Friday Night, and probably a plethora of other books that I haven’t read. But Harrington handled the concept a lot more nicely than Abbi Glines did in Until Friday Night (sorry, just my opinion). I understood a lot better why Chelsea makes the decision to stop speaking.
Another difference from Until Friday Night is that the whole book doesn’t revolve around the romance between the main character and the love interest. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good love story just as much as the next girl. But what I liked about this book was that it actually had a message other than “love conquers all” or . . . I don’t know, “your soulmate is out there” or something like that.
This story is, most obviously, about thinking before you speak. You have to be careful of what you say because there can be some very serious consequences. I’m not saying that every accidental diarrhea of the mouth will have an outcome as serious as the one in Speechless, but people could still get hurt, one way or another. And this book shows that the people getting hurt don’t have to just be the victim. Especially with an explosion like the one Chelsea inadvertently triggers, there can be a lot of collateral damage.
There’s a lot that one can learn from this book, whether it be about forgiveness or regret or, despite my insistence that this book doesn’t revolve around romance, even love. Overall, I think that this book has some very powerful messages, along with some very powerful characters, as well. Even the secondary characters left an impact.
I would definitely recommend this book. It was sad but hopeful at the same time, and I would give it a 9.2 out of 10.
Thanks for reading,
JC <3