About the book
Speechless is a stand-alone young adult novel by Hannah Harrington. It was published by Mira Ink in Kindle format on 7th September 2012 while the paperback has a release date of 13th February 2013. The book is 272 pages long. I was provided with an e-book for review.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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.
What I thought
I loved Hannah Harrington's other book, Saving June and I couldn't wait to get more from her.
In Speechless Chelsea Knot is popular and loves life. However, she has a habit to spread rumours around like wild fire and just cannot keep them to herself. When her best friend has a party and Chelsea finds out something major, she doesn't keep it to herself for long at all. Unfortunately for Chelsea, this ends in disaster with a boy being beaten up to the point where he ends up in hospital and in a really bad way. It takes a lot of guilt for Chelsea to report the people who did it and it also ruins her life at school. After all of this, Chelsea realises that her spreading gossip and rumours isn't a good thing to do so she takes a vow of silence.
I really liked the idea of Chelsea realising what she had been doing was so wrong and that she decided to try and rectify it by being silent and not talking not anyone, not even when she was at home. Although this was a little over the top maybe, especially not talking to her parents, I did understand her reasons. She thought that not talking at all would keep her out of trouble. Staying silent is also partly to show that she is really sorry for everything she has done.
As much as I felt sorry for Chelsea, especially after telling the police who beat up the boy, I could also kind of understand why the people at her school treat her in the way that they did. Once Chelsea speaks out, she is tormented by her former friends and also near enough everyone else in school. Because of speaking out, Chelsea becomes the subject of bullying in a massive way. Now, I'm not saying I understand the bullying aspect of this book but I more meant I understood why her ex-friends decided they didn't want anything to do with her anymore.
Not only does this book tackle the subject of bullying but also homophobia, which is the reason the boy got beaten up in the first place. It was shocking to see how such a place, in a such a time, could be this homophobic. As this book is set in the present, it is hard to think that such small minded places and people exist and that people still feel this way. Although the homophobic characters were punished for what they did, I still don't think that it was enough. As well, things are put into place to stop bad things happening again but I don't think it was shown as being majorly important, when it should have been.
There are some great secondary characters in Speechless, mainly Asha though. She's the one girl who befriends Chelsea when she has no one else and even when they have to have conversations on a whiteboard. I loved Asha because she really didn't care what anyone else thought of her and she did exactly as she wanted. Asha also introduced Chelsea to a different way of life and introduced her to people who actually cared and didn't treat her like an outcast.
While Speechless does have some really important issues spoken about, it just wasn't strong enough for me. I wanted things more escalated to make them seem as important as they really are. I wanted to love this book but unfortunately, I didn't love this one quite as much as I did Saving June.