Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 336 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

SpeechlessEveryone 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:


After the fantastic little novel that was Saving June, I knew two things: Hannah Harrington was possibly going to become one of my favorite authors and I needed to get a copy of her sophomore novel Speechless ASAP. Luckily enough for me, I got my Hannah fix much earlier than I expected to, and the quality of this novel confirms that the author is now among one of my favorites. Her characterization is fantastic, her prose is always perfect, and these darn characters made me tear up so many times.

Honestly, I didn't mean to read it as soon or as quickly as I did. Another book I've been anticipating was supposed to come first, but I was a dummy and left it in the book pouch hanging from my bed when I had to go on a trip. My Kindle, and therefore Speechless, was on hand and I decided to read this instead. Wow. Chelsea's character growth as she starts her long journey into right drove the novel from beginning to end and in a few hours, I'd devoured the entire book when I only meant to read a piece of it while visiting my grandparents.

What happens to Chelsea when she talks to the cops isn't unfamiliar. I've seen a popular girl get frozen out and bullied in multiple novels after she talks to the police about something bad that happened. That doesn't make it any less painful to read about as she is bullied by the people she used to call her friends and hear about Noah's slow recovery from the homophobia-motivated attack on him. Forgiveness is never easy and figuring out right from wrong rarely is either. These messages shine clear through the novel I was nearly brought to tears when Chelsea and Noah meet again for the first time after the attack.

Harrington's prose captures Chelsea's voice perfectly and her characterization is well-done. I wanted a little more of that for her new friends Sam and Asha, but they were both incredibly likable and I was cheering when Chelsea and Sam's first kiss came around. They're so cute! I'm running out of things to say because there are so many subtleties about this novel that I love so much--the bonds between everyone at Rosie's, the strength of both Chelsea and Noah, Asha's genuine personality--and I don't know how to put words to them. I hate to give in to my punny heritage, but this novel darn near left me speechless.

So I loved this book. I mean really loved this book. So why is it not a five-star read? Kristen, Chelsea's former best friend, is never given any depth. She is the two-dimensional mean girl through and through when so much more could have been done with her. There was also the slut-shaming, which means a star is automatically taken off. I'd be fine if its only instances remained in the first two chapters, when Chelsea was still a mean girl, or when people were calling a whore to make her feel bad (which is a pretty clear implication that doing that is just wrong), but Chelsea continues calling people and things slutty even when she's supposed to be turning herself around and being a "good" person.

Any future books Harrington decides to publish are going on my to-read list immediately. Maybe we'll see more cameos from previous novels' characters in future books too; Jake and Harper's (of Saving June fame) quick cameo in Rosie's tickled me pink. (This has nothing to do with anything, but I keep trying to type Chelsi in place of Chelsea because I use the first spelling in one of my manuscripts.)

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Incarnation by Emma Cromwell