Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Few Words on Speechless

Hannah Harrington

From GoodReads

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.

Once in awhile, a book comes along that just resonates so deeply and affects you so much. Speechless is one of those books. I actually think it should be required reading for high schoolers, along with other books, such as 13 Reasons Why. None of us, but particularly teenagers, thinks about the power of our words. In Speechless, Chelsea learns exactly how powerful words can be.

Chelsea is part of the popular crowd. She has the friends that everyone else wishes to be friends with. And she has the best friend every girl envies. She parties, gossips, shops. But in one thoughtless moment, her words cause a cataclysm that she could not have foreseen. And all that changes. Once Chelsea realizes the repercussions of her actions, she decides that to protect others from her inability to keep her mouth shut, she'll take a vow of silence. This action, as well as another, causes her to lose her friends and become a pariah. 

"This vow was supposed to be about making things less complicated, to stop myself from doing something stupid, to show everyone how much I don’t need them. It was about me deciding that if I can’t have their forgiveness or their respect, I won’t give them anything. All it’s done is made me an easy target."

In Chelsea's journey in silence, she learns a lot. She learns a lot about her community:

"I think they all would’ve been happier if I’d kept my mouth shut so they could stick their heads in the sand and pretend nothing happened. When they couldn’t just ignore it, they were so quick to blame it on Warren and Joey just being two bad apples, because if they weren’t, that meant something more insidious was going on. That kids who grow up here aren’t raised right. That this town could produce that kind of hatred in its children. And no one wants to believe that.

I don’t want to believe that."

She learns a lot about friendships:

"I knew doing what I did, ..., would put me on the other side of it. I knew exactly what it would cost.

I still did it anyway. And I’m glad. I really am. Because I was never happy before, and I never even realized it. I know now. You can be surrounded by people and still be lonely. You can be the most popular person in school, envied by every girl and wanted by every boy, and still feel completely worthless. The world can be laid at your feet and you can still not know what you want from it.

And I’m glad because it means I’m different from Kristen, different from Warren and Joey and Lowell and Derek and all the rest. It means that even then, I knew right from wrong, knew what was really, truly important, knew what I could lose and still, I was willing to give it all up if it meant Noah had some justice. Even if Noah wasn’t a friend. Even if Warren and Joey were."

But most importantly, she learns a lot about herself:

"But even though I know my flaws are many (many many many), and there are always ways I could be better, and I should never stop working for that----I also need to give myself a break. I can cut myself some slack sometimes. Because I’m a work in progress. Because nobody is perfect. At least I acknowledge the mistakes I’ve made, and am making. At least I’m trying. That means something, doesn’t it?

And just because I have room for improvement doesn’t mean I’m worthless, or that I have nothing to offer to, like, the world."

I loved taking this emotional journey with Chelsea. I enjoyed getting to see her grow as a person, realizing her mistakes, rectifying them as best she can, and making new friends...friends worth taking the time to really get to know. She seems to learn what's really important. I also liked the fact that the author showed the powerful support that parents can offer.

Hannah Harrington has created a powerfully moving novel. Speechless is a treasure.


  1. I've read many mixed reviews for this book. I will give it a try :-)

    1. I've read those less favorable reviews as well...mostly readers not liking Chelsea. But I feel like Chelsea was purposely written as an unlikable character so we can watch her transformation into one we do like. I hope you like the book. I look forward to reading your review. =)


Now you know what I think...what are your thoughts??