Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publishers: Harlequin Teen
Published Date: August 28th 2012
From: NET GALLEY
My rating: 4 out of 5
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's has taken a vow of silence--to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting everyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets if hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there's strength in silence, and in 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.
The First 20%
Such a good hook straight into the story. Chelsea is part of the in-crowd and gets noticed. Mainly thanks to her best friend, Kristen, who is the IT girl at school. Chelsea knows the others in the crowd only notice her because of her motor mouth, usually divulging some sort of secret or embarrassing gossip about someone else. But she sees something at a New Years Eve party and, being drunk and without her usual sense of decorum, she announces it to the entire room. She has no regard or care about what she says, and no feelings of who she is about to hurt.
The Main Characters
Chelsea showed her first redeeming quality quite soon into the book. Its not often that you read that. Instantly I knew that Chelsea wasn't really as heartless as she appeared. She told her parents EVERYTHING (I cringe because I don't know how she did it but she did) she takes a vow of silence, after reading about a Buddhist monk. For Chelsea this is her way to atone while self punishing herself at the same time. She sees her flaws instantly, she knows what she is and knows that she's hurt people. But how much she's yet to find out. She takes the harsh cruelty of her so called friends, and brushes off the vandalism to her locker and car. She also tries not to let anyone else get involved knowing that this is her fault. Chelsea changes her point of view gradually throughout the book. Its tough for her but necessary.
Asha is the Indian friend who Chelsea meets in detention. They don't instantly hit it off, but Asha also doesn't point the finger. She's a fun character and very quirky. Her easy friendship with Sam and everyone at Rosie's makes her such a likeable person.
Sam is the gallant knight. Though Chelsea doesn't understand and is confused by his friendly attitude towards her, especially as Sam is the best friend of Noah, she is almost disarmed by the fact that he doesn't want to start any fights or blame her. Throughout the book his calming demeanour keeps her levelled.
A high school is not a high school without scandal. Chelsea and her friends relish in it. Bigging themselves up on others peoples misfortunes or indiscretions. Believing themselves to be better than others. But when Chelsea takes a step back and starts to analyse her lifestyle she doesn't like what she sees. It isn't an instant 'I'm going to make everything right', because that just isn't possible. Chelsea's announcement has repercussions that travel along unexpected lines. She needed a wake up call and now she's dealing with it, and its a tough journey. This is a story about self discovery in the worst possible scenario.
So not all severed lines can be fixed. Not all friendships can go back to the way they were and for Chelsea she doesn't want that life any more. She has a new life with funny genuine people and the chance of a proper boyfriend who is actually quite amazing. A great ending!!
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I knew people like Chelsea so I was genuinely interested in what would happen to her. There are no 'stop the story - I'm going to make a speech to everyone' moments. There isn't a great anti-climax where everyone realises how great she really is and they all 'group hug'. But Chelsea's journey is tough and there's some great life lessons to be learned from her indiscretion. The book held my interest all the way to the last page and I was left feeling happy!