Speechless by Hannah Harrington | Book Review

speechless by hannah harringtonBook Title/Author: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher/Year
: Harlequin  Teen 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series:  No
Other Books From AuthorSaving June

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I received this from the publisher at BEA. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Chelsea Knot is popular and she can’t keep a secret — always blabbing everything she knows and spreading gossip around. The last secret she told almost got somebody killed and has turned her into the ultimate social outcast. Trying to learn from her mistake, she takes a vow of silence which alienates her even further at a time where everybody is talking about her and she’s become the target of a lot of bullying. When she meets a girl whom she would never have associated with before, she is befriended despite everything that has gone on, she realizes she might have a chance to be forgiven by people for what she did– if only she could forgive herself first.

This was my pick for book club this month and I honestly didn’t know what to expect but had heard good things about this book and Saving  June. I’m pleased to report that I really liked this book and think it’s going to make for a good discussion! It delved into quite a few issues without screaming “HEY I’M AN ISSUE BOOK” and I felt like it wasn’t a complete “THIS IS WRONG AND THIS IS RIGHT” kind of book either. I felt conflicted sometimes and I liked that.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is your ultimate “popular mean girl gets thrown from her social status and falls hard to the bottom” kind of story. We know the skeleton for this kind of story — the mean girl is cast down from the social heavens and at the mercy of all those people who she treated like dirt or ignored. Chelsea certainly gets that and  more from the people who she used to be friends and with those she ignored — plus, in her  case, the people close with the person who was affected most because of her gossip. I thought Hannah Harrington really made that skeleton of a story into so much more as it chronicles her downfall from queen bee status to biggest social outcast to what she finds out about herself by the end.

The thing that is always make or break for me in these kinds of stories is whether or not I feel like the “mean girl” has truly changed or if she’s just adapted — there’s a difference for me. It’s interesting with Chelsea because it’s easy to hate her early on (I did!) because she’s a serious bitch but I couldn’t help but know I would root for her  at the  moment that she does the RIGHT THING early on — the thing, that for her life, would be the worst thing. Not days or weeks later. Right away. For that, I already felt like I could root for her. You can FEEL how conflicted Chelsea was about her decision after she starts enduring all the harassment and bullying — it WOULD have been so much easier to not do the right thing and she THINKS that. She knows logically she did the right thing but she can’t help but truly wonder. I found that to be incredibly realistic as I’ve been in the same situation knowing that doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest, and doubting yourself, but realizing you had it to it.

I found her whole journey to be believable and real and I really felt her change was authentic — she eventually saw that, at the end of the day, she couldn’t BE like those people anymore if they couldn’t see what was wrong about the situation. Her journey isn’t perfect — she still maintains a lot of her old ways of thinking throughout a lot of it but I saw true growth and could sympathize slowly but surely.  I loved how she saw all of these qualities she wanted to possess, that her old friends didn’t, through this new group of people. Her journey wasn’t easy but I loved taking it with her and watching her grow and realize who SHE is. I REALLY loved the supporting characters she makes friends with as they have so much depth and are just really great characters– Asha and the whole diner crew and of course SAM.

I’ll say I didn’t always quite understand the whole vow of silence and what it meant to her and I wasn’t even sure that she did, but I realized as the novel progressed, that was kind of the beauty of it. I don’t think she set out to do anything profound or enlightening with her vow of silence but she was just processing what happened and was her way of kind of making  a sort of penance and amends even if she knew she couldn’t fix things.

Speechless was a solid read that breathes new life into the “mean girl fall from grace” plot with the way it seamlessly explores the many facets of high school experience — the fickle nature of popularity and social status, the damage of gossip,  the beginnings of finding yourself in an atmosphere that wants everyone to be the same, etc. –and tackles it at a level that goes beyond the superficial surface of it all. The beauty of the novel is that, even far removed from high school, so many of these things that were explored are still so relevant to me and I appreciated thinking about them as I watched Chelsea, a character I didn’t want to like, make this genuine journey — even though the road was quite thorny. Great characters who are full of depth, a story that will captivate and full of really heartfelt messages without beating you over the head with it.

 

 

Speechless by Hannah Harrington review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you feel like her journey was genuine? Who was your favorite secondary character (I LOVE ASHA!!)

 

 

 

 

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. Jamie, I remember reading this one last summer and I completely fell in love with it! (You HAVE to read Saving June, btw). I wholly agree with you: I hated Chelsea from the start as well, she was just not the best person but her character growth was seriously amazing and real! I grew to love the new Chelsea as she learned and met new, better people. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, beautiful review as always, Jamie! :)

  2. I was really surprised by this one. It was like OMG AMAZING, but I do think it made some pretty powerful points. I thought Chelsea’s growth was pretty amazing and I think this book sends a great message to teens.

  3. I have this one at home to read! I’m glad that it brings more to the typical “popular girl falls from grace” plot, and I can’t wait to read it! Great review Jamie! :)

  4. ah! I just realized that there was a typo in the website section when I wrote my last comment! I think if you click my name in this one it will actually take you to my blog this time :P

  5. I read this one and was pleasantly surprised! I honestly did not expect this, I thought it would be more shallow, but it turned out to carry a really good message without being preachy. I especially liked the diner she used to work at (can’t remember the name) and the people working there. Especially the adult couple (also can’t remember the name, yikes).

  6. I really loved this book! Ideas it in one night and it was so good!

  7. Now I’m even more excited to read this book! I purchased Speechless immediately after finishing Harrington’s Saving June last year but have put off reading it because I knew that Chelsea would be a difficult character to warm up to. There are few things I appreciate more than a realistic contemporary young adult story, and I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed it. From the sounds of it, there’s a good chance that I will, too! :D

  8. I’m so glad that you liked this book! I read it last year, and fell in love with it. There’s a unique quality to the story that really stood out to me. Even though I thought was Chelsea did was a bit extreme, it certainly got a point across. Plus, I love Sam!

  9. I like when books make you feel conflicted and you have to think and examine your opinions on issues!

    I’ve been curious about Speechless or a while so I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on it, Jamie. It definitely sounds like one I could enjoy reading :)

  10. When I read the summary I was ready to dismiss it as “just another mean girl/issue book”, but if you say it’s worth it I won’t be so quick to judge. It’s nice to see archetypes get reinvented every so often.

  11. I loved this book. Saving June was good, but Speechless put Hannah Harrington in a whole new category as author for me. I wasn’t sure I would like it, but I ended up adoring it. I read it in a single sitting last year (just after BEA, actually) and absolutely could not put it down. I thought it would be predictable, but it wasn’t! That’s what made it for me.

  12. You described my feelings aboutthis book perfectly! I can be hyper-sensitive to preaching in books, but this one was just a story about a girl, bullying, guilt, and how she dealt with it. Characterization can make or break books like this, but Chelsea wasn’t too chichéd and I loved her growth.

    One thing that bothered me: Chelsea repeatedly complained about her struggles with geometry, but whenever she included details about her math homework, her problems were always algebraic. Did that irk you? Or am I just crazy?

  13. I love books about mean girls, popularity, gossip, all that good stuff. I’ve heard really good things about this book… and apparently you liked it too, so I think I’ll have to read it soon :)

  14. As crazy as this is going to sound… I don’t think I’ve read a book with the “mean girl falls from grace” as the main plot (sub-plots, sure, but not the main one). I know it’s a Thing, but somehow I’ve not read one yet! But this one might be my first… I like how you said that it’s important, and that it tackles issues without being heavy-handed about it. It sounds really good. :)

  15. I have this one on my shelf and was planning on reading it sometime this summer, so I’m glad to hear it was a good read for you, Jamie! I’ve been on the lookout for a GOOD ‘Mean girl falls’ story and I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one as much as you did!

Trackbacks

  1. […] My Save the Date for Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was the most popular but I figured I’d go with an  ACTUAL review and that was Speechless by Hannah Harrington […]

  2. […] the “popular mean girl fall from grace” kind of stories for some reason (I just read Speechless by Hannah Harrington recently which was great) but this one was the most powerful, authentic feeling one yet. I read […]

  3. […] people who don’t mind really difficult characters, people who are interested in books about bullying or slut-shaming that isn’t preachy and shows different sides, people who are looking for a good conversation starter or book club read (MAN I wish my book club read this), lovers of contemporary YA that deal with tough issues, people who liked Speechless by Hannah Harrington […]

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