Thursday, 14 February 2013
Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: August 28th, 2012
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.
Speechless is Hannah Harrington's second book for teens and is an important book with life-affirming messages. After Saving June made quite an impression last year, I was really looking forward to reading this, and I wasn't disappointed.
Chelsea Knot is a terrible secret keeper who enjoys spreading gossip about anything and anyone. She's a member of the popular sophomore high school clique and, frankly, doesn't keep nice company. When one of her secret-spilling sessions ends in homophobic violence, she takes a vow of silence. What follows is the realisation that words are important, and words hurt. Even if those words are playful or nondescript, they can have a profound effect one someone's life and wellbeing, whether we want them to or not.
Harrington's message here is to think before you speak, and to take other people's lives into account. I think it's a lesson all teenagers should learn, preferably as soon as they enter high school. Bullying and violence is no way to express a dislike for something, just like staying silent isn't always the right thing to do, and that's exactly what Speechless is about.
My favourite part of this book is Chelsea's character growth. She starts off shallow and self-involved, with no cares or feelings for anyone else. She tells secrets like they're simple shopping lists, all while making people's lives hell in the process. Thanks to her silence and a new group of friends, slowly she starts to change into someone I really like. Someone who stands up for herself, does the right thing and accepts the consequences.
Of course there's a spot of romance in Speechless, of the sweet and believable variety. It's a relationship that grows and develops, just like Chelsea does, and it's a pleasure to read. Speechless is another YA book that should find itself sitting comfortably on many a school library shelf, just waiting to be read and learned from. I hope it finds a home there, and I hope it will teach teenagers about being tolerant of differences. Here's to looking forward to Hannah's next book!