Author: Hannah Harrington
Published: August 28 2012 by Harlequin as an ebook. February 2013 by Mira in print
Length: 288 pages
Warnings: drink, homophobic violence, sex reference
Other info: Hannah Harrington has also written Saving June.
Summary : 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: Chelsea Knot is one of the popular girls. Until one night when she is drunk, walks in on something she shouldn’t have, and ends up being cast out of her friendship circle. Not because her blabbing about Noah and Andy got one of them beaten up and put into hospital, but because she’s the one who told the police that it was Warren and Joey. Realising that her big mouth got someone badly badly hurt, Chelsea takes on a vow of silence.
Having highly enjoyed Saving June (review here). I definitely wanted to read this, despite it, once again, being out of my normal speculative fiction range.
I first like the originality of the concept-vows of silence you don’t hear about much in either fiction or real life, especially in 21st century contexts, so putting one in the middle of a modern American high school society would definitely be interesting.
This is a very character driven book. Chelsea undergoes a huge transformation to being second in command in the hierarchy, to being her own person with much healthier friends. Her morals and ideas change along the way, and watching this happen is definitely intriguing. This is one of the rare books in which my favourite character is the main one, not a random side character. This probably is to do with the fact that Chelsea develops so drastically, and into a much nicer person.
The majority of the other characters were likeable too (guess who wasn’t). My second favourite character was Asha, who is unbelievably kind and non-judgementnal. Sam is patient and sweet, and despite Noah being in hospital for the majority of Speechless, he makes much more of an impact on Chelsea and the reader than you’d expect him to.
I found it especially refreshing that Chelsea didn’t end up with the popular guy, but with someone she may not have looked at twice before her vow of silence. Yet another sign of her change.
There’s a lot of things to think about, well guided by a list of questions at the end. Hate violence, bullying, homophobia, the effects of speaking, the effects of silence. Once again, Hannah treats her chosen subjects delicately and sensibly, and makes you think. In Speechless, Hannah captures teen dynamics, peer pressure, and the importance of friendship perfectly.
Overall: Strength 4(.25) tea to another powerful novel one of my new favourite authors. Looking forwards to more from Hannah!