Books · REVIEWS

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

“You can be surrounded by people and still be lonely. You can be the most popular person in school, envied by every girl and wanted by every boy, and still feel completely worthless. The world can be laid at your feet and you can still not know what you want from it. ❞

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.

Personal Thoughts:

Hannah Harrington‘s debut novel, Saving June is one of my best reads last year, that’s why it is no surprise that Hannah Harrington is one of those authors that I’m stalking for another book releases. Even before her sophomore novel, Speechless came out of the market, I already included it in my to-buy list without even knowing what is the story is all about.

The story focus on Chelsea as she live the consequences of a one moment of mistake that changed her life drastically. She used to be one of the popular girl in her school, being the best friend of the most famous, Kristen. One of Chelsea’s known skills is she doesn’t know how to keep a secret. A skill that leads one boy to a coma and another two in prison. After that regretful incident, she goes from being the popular girl that people love to hate to literary being hated by almost every person around her. Being the new outcast, she take the unusual path by taking a vow of silence. A vow that may or may not bring difference to what she did.

What I like in this book is Hannah Harrington‘s way of turning simple things to something interesting. She can turn her characters from bitchy to someone likable without compromising the true identity of the character. As I read the first few chapters of the Speechless, I am ready to hate Chelsea or at least dislike her. She appears to be too shallow for my own liking. She had done things she don’t really like for the sake of staying the best friend of the most famous teenager in their school. She behaved according to Kristen expectations, doing almost anything Kristen asked her to do. She doesn’t have her own identity as she lives in the shadow of her supposed best friend. Even her clothes need Kristen’s approval. But later in the story, Chelsea did something surprising though not totally outside of the character. She stand in what she believe in and try to make things right. She accept her mistakes and pay for it to the point of losing her popularity and being a subject of bullying. It cost her a lot and even her family suffers to it. But in-spite of everything she didn’t give up nor take the easiest path.

I like how Hannah Harrington took Chelsea in a process of maturity. She let Chelsea grow in a step by step way. It didn’t happen overnight instead she let Chelsea use the one mistake she did to be her stepping stone and make changes to her life. Changes that make her happy in the long run.

Hannah Harrington can also turn the usually irritating and boring topics into something remarkably readable and powerful. She easily use common subjects like bullying and gossiping into something readable, concerning and touching. Through her flowing and engaging words she easily weaved a simple story into something thought provoking and almost profound.

“Hate is easy, but love takes courage.”

Chelsea’s vow of silence may appear a little unbelievable at first. I didn’t buy it one moment, because I can’t see it in her personality. That she is actually think of doing it for the chance of not getting someone else into trouble. As I said I don’t like Chelsea from the first part of the story, and her vow of silence basically started from that first few chapters. Which makes it hard for me to believe that she is a selfless teenager doing the right thing during the hardest times. But later on while reading, it becomes more clear to me. As I see it from a different angle, I think it is not really a selfless act but more on a self-preservation. As much as she didn’t want what happened to Noah, she also didn’t want to be blame. She was concerned for what she lost, like her friends and her popularity. It is just later on when it appeared more real to her that she can never really get back to the top, that she starts to evaluate what she really wants, and what are the things that she truly enjoy and make her happy. Chelsea’s journey to silence become her journey of self-discovery and finding new life and new friends.

“… it’s like the word is spinning and standing still, all at once. And I’m happy.

Speechless is an endearing novel that explores issues of friendships, peer pressure, bullying and how we accept and treat gay and lesbian around us. It’s about taking responsibilities to your own actions, making the right decision even at the hardest moment. And it also shows that sometimes being famous and being part of the elite group is not always as endearing and great as it promise.

As always, Hannah Harrington‘s writing never failed to impress me. Like her first novel Saving June, she deliver a flowing, enjoyable and powerful story with Speechless. A book that has a heart that aches to speak for everyone who believe in doing what is right. I will definitely add her to my auto-buy list of authors I love and will definitely read her future works.

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