Review: 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.

___

Review

I’m incredibly pleased I decided, and was able, to read Speechless. I’m so used to reading YA wrapped up in supernatural, paranormal, fantastical, or quirky themes, I forget how enjoyable contemporary fiction can be and Speechless created much joy for me. The story has become a favourite and when I finished reading it, I knew deep down I would re-read it again one day.

During the first twenty pages I was questioning whether I would be entertained by the story as Chelsea’s personality caused a bout of irritation. She was a mean girl and I find there’s nothing relatable or endearing about mean girls. While there’s the option to give up on a book purely due to dislike of the characters, this isn’t something I was contemplating. In my reading experience some of the best characters have been on the unpleasant side and I wanted to continue on with the story regardless of how Chelsea made me feel. I would have kept reading Speechless if Chelsea’s changed circumstances hadn’t in turn forced her to change, but I also wanted to be able to be both stimulated and entertained. In saying that, I am thankful the irritation I felt towards Chelsea in the beginning turned out to be a temporary twinge and was smoothed out with her growth. She became one of my favourite characters to follow and I ended up finding her to be funny, caring, and thoughtful, which was complimented by those around her.

I adored the mish-mash of characters surrounding Chelsea. Sam and Asha are definitely loveable characters. Not only because they give Chelsea a chance, but more so thanks to their quirks. Their clear individual ticks and likes help to give them depth, along with filling out their wonderful personalities. While they were very standout characters, none of their quirks felt forced or added on, rather it made them more real. Being able to visualise and be entertained by the group’s antics was one reason I could not stop reading.

Seriously, if I didn’t need all the sleep I can get I would have finished Speechless in one sitting. I would have said, ‘to hell with you sleep and world! I’m losing myself in a book today.’ As it was I read the majority the same evening I began reading it and then continued on again first thing in the morning. Looking back now I think I read it far too quickly!

It’s also not only the characters I loved reading about either. There were elements to the story I could relate to, at least by association, and I was surprised in a good way by it. I knew something happened to make Chelsea stop talking, but I didn’t know what it was until I began reading. Avert Your Eyes Reader, Spoilers Abound…

Reading Speechless sometimes was akin to being a voyeuristic gay kid in a sense. Being bisexual as well as being bullied, threatened, and abused for my sexuality growing up, I couldn’t help but be wrapped up in the story even though that wasn’t the main focus. I admit I delighted in the mean girl learning from her mistakes and eventually becoming an outspoken ally. While I don’t believe this is a phenomenon that happens often in real life, I liked being able to read a story where the subject of homophobia, realising it is not ok, is presented in a contemporary young adult without cheesiness and stereotypes.

End Spoiler

Speechless was truly a pleasant surprise and I can state, as fact, page 219 is where I fell in love with the book. Sure I was hooked before then, but that’s when it really snagged me and I didn’t want to let go. I now wish to read it again, albeit slower, to saviour it and reconnect with the lovely characters once more.

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