Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 288 pages
Genera: Realistic Contemporary
Subjects: Relationships, bullying, cause and effect, mean girls
How I obtained the book: Netgalley digital ARC
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.
Speechless first drew me in, like many readers before me, because of its cover. The original one I mean, not the one with the girl. It had no girl on it, no dress, no flowers, no ornate background – just a plain white background with one word on it.
Sure, the author’s name wasn’t on it so chances are I knew it wasn’t a permanent cover and there would be another one, probably with a girl on it (there is) but I still love it all the same. It’s so beautifully simple but it really conveys the feeling of silence well, which is what the book is about.
As a very character driven novel, I felt that the characterisation was crucial to the progression of the story. Thankfully, I do not have to count lack of characterisation as one of my downsides. The characters were all very well formed – if not all likeable.
Chelsea is a very difficult character to like. She reminded me of Sam from Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, but she was not at all like same really. Though they were both the “it” girl who gets reformed, the two were very different in how they were characterised. While I felt Sam truly grew from someone I hated to someone I genuinely admired, I did not feel as great of a feeling about Chelsea.
Chelsea did grow throughout the novel but not as drastically as I hoped and expected. Sam as a character was more relatable and realistic then Chelsea was. Chelsea’s change wasn’t really subtle, but I’m not saying Sam’s was. I don’t know how I should phrase this but, I prefer Sam to Chelsea.
The beginning of the novel made Chelsea and my relationship very strained. Chelsea, quite publicly, tells everyone at a New Year’s party that Noah, a gay student, is with his boyfriend in one of the bedroom. Her gossiping leads to two jocks to barge in to the bedroom and leave Noah in the hospital.
Yes, I do understand how Chelsea was not meant to be likeable during the beginning on the book but this instance made me doubtful that I would like her by the end. Her constant use of fag also furthered her journey into the hall of Lisbeth’s-Worst-Book-Enemies.
Chelsea sure took her own sweet time to mature. Constantly she was thinking some extremely vapid and shallow thoughts such as (I’d like to thank Vanessa for these):
I’m only here [in Art] because it’s the easiest elective available, and it sure as hell beats Shop (what a misleading title!), or Personal Finance (my only interest in money is spending it, not budgeting it). – Page 50
I don’t associate with [geeky freshman] freaks. – Page 67
Eventually, Chelsea developed a brain and decided to use it. She matured very fast after some key moments and became the character I expected. Still, she wasn’t anything like Sam, but she was very much her own character. I decided that she wasn’t that bad after all and started to like her a bit more. She wasn’t perfect but hell, are the perfect characters really perfect?
The side characters, especially Asha, Andy, Lou, Dex and Sam, were all wonderful characters to read about and they were done pretty well but Andy particularly stands out to me.
He was the boyfriend of Noah who by all means has the right to hate Chelsea – which he does. He is brutally sarcastic (which isn’t always a bad thing) and uses it to the full extent against Chelsea. Rightfully he isn’t considered a bully. As the novel progresses, he starts to hate her less and eventually forgive her as best as he can.
Asha was the quintessential adorable, quirky, and nerdy girl who Chelsea befriends. She’s Indian – obviously. I did like her but looking back, she’s very stereotypical and not exactly original. She is not fleshed out as much as most of the other characters either. She is a fun addition to the story however.
Lou and Dex were an adult couple who ran a diner. I remember liking them a lot but can’t remember any outstanding and original qualities to them. I’m glad for the inclusion of adult characters in a young adult book.
Sam is another stereotypical character who is in the place of the “sweet boy next door who the main character falls for” archetype. He was not special or noteworthy in anyway. I didn’t hate him but he was a very “meh” character for me.
-1 star for Chelsea
Plot and Writing:
The plot was cheesy and predictable. Gossip girl reforms into pure angel. Yeah, so the story isn’t original but I did like it a lot, hence the 3.5 rating I am giving it. It goes through a fairly standard process which isn’t that hard to guess. The character personalities and settings are not that original either. Nerdy girl. Sweet guy. Angry guy. Two extras. Diner setting. Highschool setting.
– .5 stars for lack of originality
Pretty good writing for a second book. I found it very easy to read, especially in short bursts. I found that I could read quite a bit of this book pretty fast. I remember very clearly sitting/lying in various positions (most including hanging off the bed) and reading for an hour+ till I finished it. That memory for some reason has to be one of my highlights of the year.
This is a new segment that will be added to many of my reviews, especially for books with very clear themes such as this one. The book was largely about bullying, both inflicted by the main character and inflicted upon the main character.
Through bullying is where most of her development takes place. Though I do not commend Chelsea for how she dealt with it (not speaking to her parents or anyone), I do find her journey through bullying very realistic (remember this is coming from a person who has never been bullied).
What I liked and what I didn’t:
- Most of the Cast.
- The setting
- The story – cliched as it was.
- The reading
- Minor problems with lack of characterisation in a few characters
- Lack of originality
Speechless is not a deep book or a very subtle book. It’s very “in your face” I suppose. The message isn’t really concealed behind deep characters but very blatant, even to the casual reader. I did really enjoy reading this book however and I count it to be in my top reads this year. It is by no means perfect but still a very enjoyable read. I recommend it to people who are willing to read a book with obvious flaws just for the pure enjoyment of it.
Favourite Character: Andy
Favourite Quote: N/A