Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Author: Hannah Harrington
Publication: August 28, 2012
By: HarlequinTeen

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.

Chelsea has taken a vow of silence - to learn to keep her mouth shut and to stop hurting anyone else.  There's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way.  Including a boy she might even fall for.  If only her new friends can forgive her...if only she can forgive herself.

Thank you to YABC and Harlequin Teen for this ARC! *does happy dance*

I've been eagerly awaiting this sophomore offering from Hannah Harrington (Saving June was one of my favorite reads of 2011) and Speechless does not disappoint!  Also, I will read anything this amazing young author writes, ever. That is all!

This cover is so unique! It's minimalist but it incorporates several elements of the story which is why I think it works. 

Speechless is a poignant example of the power that words can have.  Our words have the capacity to build up or tear down, to encourage or destroy. How we use our words is just one way we define who we are as a person but there are times when words aren't enough and action is required.

Chelsea Knot is your typical teenager whose main focus is on being popular and the coveted position she holds as being BFF to Miss Popularity herself, Kristen.  While Kristen is known for being beautiful and the girl everyone want to be, Chelsea is known for being the school's gossip queen. She thrives on collecting other peoples secrets (and blabbing them) the way some girls collect shoes or boys collect vintage comic books. But when her words nearly cost a fellow student his life, Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence. 
In doing so, she'll have the chance to examine the choices she's made and the person she's become but it will cost her.  She experiences a fall from grace that is swift and harsh.

"Everyone loves kicking the popular girl the second she's been knocked off the pedestal."

People she thought she could rely on don't come through, forcing Chelsea to make new friends in Asha and Sam.  Asha is a great example of unconditional love, offering friendship to Chelsea when no one else will.  She sees the good in people when there doesn't seem to be any and she's always willing to offer second chances.   

Sam is not only Cheslea's partner on a class project but also happens to be best friends with the student who nearly died as a result of her actions. He's the last person Chelsea expects to find friendship with and by rights, he should hate her but he doesn't.  Sam is unlike anyone she's ever met and his kindness, compassion and sense of humor catch her completely off guard. *swoons*  The more time they spend together the more Chelsea realizes that what she's been longing for may have been right under her loose lips the whole time. (It's amazing what we find when we start seeing things clearly.)

Throughout the story, Chelsea often questions both her decision to speak up and her vow of silence, doubting whether either was really worth it. She also struggles with the concept of forgiveness both giving and receiving it which broke my heart for her. Everyone makes mistakes and through hers, Chelsea learns a hard lesson about what matters most and how sometimes, actions really do speak louder than words.

This really is a great read!  It's realistic and the subject matter is completely relevant to today's culture.  While it definitely has it's moments that are difficult to get through, Harrington's ability to infuse humor into even the most heartbreaking situations is refreshing.   

Regardless of your opinions about homosexuality the one constant is that every human being is worthy and deserving of love and respect.  It isn't always easy to love someone, especially when they've hurt you but it's what we're called to do; to love one another.

"Hate is...it's too easy. Love. Love takes courage."

This book also includes a discussion guide in the back with some great questions.

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