Monday, 1 April 2013

Speechless - Hannah Harrington

This was a book I requested as a galley months ago as soon as I saw it. I've read Hannah Harrington's debut, Saving June (review), which was incredible so knew I would enjoy this one too. For some reason though, it's taken me so long to finally choose to read this one despite the many raving reviews I've seen in that time (I don't understand either). So needless to say I was going into this novel with high expectations for the great dynamic of characters, the vivid settings and the interesting plot that I found in Saving June.

Synopsis: Chelsea Knot has everything - best friend to the most popular girl in high school, pretty, sociable. But she can't keep a secret. Which hasn't been a problem having so much power and influence at school, until she shares a secret that nearly gets someone killed and turns her into a social outcast.
Chelsea takes a vow of silence, forbidding herself to speak or even sing, in order to learn the true power of words and stop harming everyone else. Keeping quiet is hard especially when your own secrets are spilled out to everyone and there is no way to fight back. But soon Chelsea sees the strength in silence and the whole host of friends and understandings that come along with it.

Review: Boy. Hannah Harrington can WRITE.
I started this book, like many people I'm assuming, absolutely hating Chelsea. Thankfully, the type of Chelsea is at the beginning of the novel is someone I was able to avoid in my adolescence  However, the popular person with ridiculous amounts of influence and power were present at my secondary school and soon became the fake people I avoided entirely.
I think we can all imagine the type of mean person Chelsea is at the beginning. Although I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for her despite her meanness and spite. It's very clear that she's been led to this bad place where she feels its acceptable to spill everyone's secrets, not considering the consequences. She knows deeply, and realises it throughout the novel that what she is doing is totally wrong but it is something that has been drummed into her by those above her so she can't stop. Which makes it a bit ironic that those who turn against her first are those that make her spread rumours and reveal other's secrets.

I have to say the story became much more engaging and interesting once Chelsea chose to take the vow of silence and I liked seeing the journey she embarks upon in doing so from turning from this hateful, mean girl to someone with more dignity and empathy. I thought it would become rather tedious or boring having a protagonist that can't speak, but honestly, I think I got a great insight into her thoughts and emotions than many other acclaimed novel's protagonists which helps when you hate the girl at the beginning.
I've no way a fast reader and would much rather take my time over books, appreciate them, than read like 10 books in a week and not completely engage entirely with them all. However, Harrington has this ability to MAKE me read faster. Saving June I finished in a couple of days, this one was within 2 days. I'm not sure why but it's something I've come to realise.

The characters in SPEECHLESS, and indeed in Saving June, are the icing on the cake in Harrington's books. They have this Sarah Dessen-esque feel about them that makes them diverse yet so great, I guess. There is Kristen, the ultimate Regina George mean girl who I detested throughout, thought her taunting was totally unnecessary, but I'm glad about the ending for her with Chelsea. I also loved that Harrington chose Chelsea to make friends with a completely opposite group to what she is used to, that also won't necessarily accept her straight away. There's the ever so lovely Asha who I literally want as my own best friend now. And of course, SAM. Ah, Sam. Well, I did not see HIM coming as a love interest but boy, is he a sweet guy! So sweet, even when he seems to dislike Chelsea. I just loved the ability to create such amazing characters especially in the dimensions of friend and then 'more of a friend' that made it so real to read.

Harrington successfully covers a range of issues - friendship, the impact of rumours, fights, first impressions, bullying - that I think all resonated with me. However, coming away from this novel, the novel essentially made me think about the repercussions and impact of things I have said and done towards people. While I've never bullied someone and would never even think of doing so, sometimes something that you may not think would hurt someone in any way, does just that. I know I've had that happen to me before. People can be weird. One minute friendly and lovely, the next horrible and rude which Kristen shows off nicely in this novel. The main thing if anything happens, like what Noah or Chelsea go through in this as victims, to appreciate those that are around you still, like friends or family. I thought Chelsea's reaction with the vow of silence was rather...unrealistic but I think her reaction to not react outwardly is definitely the right decision in any cases be it fiction or real life.
If this is better than Saving June, I'm not sure. But Hannah Harrington can sure write some incredibly, thought-provoking contemporary.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Thank you to Netgalley and HarlequinTeen for letting me read and review this book!

Author's Website:
Pages: 288
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Challenges: None

Related Posts:
Review: Saving June


  1. Like you, I've had this on my Kindle for ages (since January, I think) and still haven't read it so I might try and get through it soon. It certainly sounds good and I'm glad you liked it, Rebecca. :)

    1. I think you'll like it Lucy, it's very similar to Confessions of an Angry Girl in my opinion.

  2. I really want to read this book, so many people have been raving about how great it is. The evolution of Chelsea's character is so interesting, most reviews that I've read have mentioned that they hated her at first but then gradually started to like her. Hannah Harrington sounds like an amazing writer!

    Thanks for the great review :)


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