Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

2 January, 2013 Reviews 20 comments

Review: Speechless by Hannah HarringtonSpeechless by Hannah Harrington
Series: Standalone
Published by HarlequinAUS on 28th August 2012
Pages: 268
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: select
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

Some novels are debatable in their quality.  Sometimes a novel can be like junkfood, but completely satisfying.  Other novels are clearly made of better stuff though less able to hold the simpler demographic.  Speechless has the happy coincidence of being made of better stuff, but clearly satisfying on a simpler level.

Throughout my entire life, my father has had one reoccuring expression.  This doesn’t include his, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” speech which I’ve heard a thousand times and, YES, DAD.  YOU’RE RIGHT. But his other thing that he says to me all the time in the hopes that I’ll eventually listen: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Use them in that ratio, girl!”

Now that one I’ve never paid much attention to but I recognize the value in it.  However, Chelsea Knot really gets it.  One day her gossipy, thoughtless ways deeply and negatively impact another human being and she takes responsibility for it in a story that is worth telling and worth reading.  She decides on a vow of silence as punitive response and in doing so learns a valuable lesson about life, friendship and love.

Let me just say, firstly, that this novel was very well written.  Harrington clearly has a grasp on raw and emotive translations of concepts and she presents them in such a way that they feel natural and simple.  I don’t like “Issue” books.  Bullying, drugs and sex books that are built around hot topic issues and become something akin to those cheap and nasty 80’s PSAs about sharing and caring. Nobody wants to be symbolically slapped in the face with moralizing and hand-wringing.  Especially when it’s stuff we all technically know.


Speechless clearly addresses the issue of bullying, but first it addresses the issue of being a novel with a compelling cast of characters, a great story and a complicated moral playground – something infinitely more interesting.

Chelsea is a great character.  She’s charismatic, interesting and is given lots of room to grow and change throughout the novel.  But it’s her decision to go speechless, not speaking at all for the forseeable future, that really sets her apart and distinguishes her from being an ordinary teenage girl.  Her gossiping and thoughtless ways land someone in the hospital and she faces a huge decision – face social pariah by turning in the culprits, or ignore her culpability and keep being a Teen Queen.

Chelsea ultimately chooses pariah and takes a vow of silence in the hopes that her big mouth won’t ever hurt another person the way it hurt Noah – but the fallout is harder and more difficult than even she imagined.  Faced with finding a new way of life, new friends and a new Chelsea – Speechless shows her journey as she does all three.

Sam and Asha, Chelsea’s new and unlikely friends carry the story alongside Chelsea’s hilarious and incisive inner-monologuing and her many amusing attempts to communicate without using words.  Sam and Chelsea’s burgeoning romance is made sweeter by the extra roadblocks to communication as he learns who she is by her actions and not her words.

This was seriously just a feel good book that occasionally had me feeling a little teary.  Very well written, very thoughtful and full of lovely, endearing characters!

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

20 Responses to “Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington”

  1. AnimeGirlAlex

    I really enjoyed this book actually and I agree, it was a good novel first and then it was an issue book, but I think the author pulled it off. I thought the vow went on for a little too long but I appreciated how Chelsea stuck to it and tried to learn her lesson, because I think we have all been in a position where we said something we shouldn’t have and Chelsea deals with the consequences.

    • KatKennedy

      AnimeGirlAlex Really?!  I thought it didn’t quite go on long enough, but I’m glad you enjoyed it nonetheless!

  2. VictoriaScottYA

    I’m adding this to my GR to-read list right now because of your review! Thank you! 🙂

  3. Megan K

    YES, YES, YES! I am SOOOOOO glad you enjoyed this, Kat! I mean, I LOVED SPEECHLESS so much it hurts. I agree with all your points: the characters were lovely, and the story was heartbreakingly emotional. I loved Sam! *swoons* 😛 
    Awesome review, Kat!

  4. Heartless_Lyn

    I’m glad you read this one.  I am reading “Saving June” right now, and I really have to say I lover her characters, flaws and all.

      • Heartless_Lyn

        KatKennedy Heartless_Lyn –
        I think you will like this one if you liked “Speechless.”

  5. carow

    Yes, this was definitely one of my favourite books of last year! So much more than I expected, and I had high expectations to begin with! Can’t wait for more from Harrington…

  6. katlb82

    I loved the journey that Chelsea went through – and the fact that it was done in such a subtle way, without waving a moral flag.
    Great review!

  7. sazbah

    And… I can’t even explain how much I love that you loved this, or… got it.
    THIS: “I don’t like “Issue” books.  Bullying, drugs and sex books that are built around hot topic issues and become something akin to those cheap and nasty 80′s PSAs about sharing and caring. Nobody wants to be symbolically slapped in the face with moralizing and hand-wringing… Speechless clearly addresses the issue of bullying, but first it addresses the issue of being a novel.”
    PRECISELY. And the silly thing is that it’s such an inelegant way to make a point if that’s what the author is trying to do. It’s polarising. It’s WONDERFUL seeing everything this books accomplishes accomplished so beautifully <3

  8. Kate C.

    Ohhhh… this one sounds interesting!  Will definitely add to my gigantic to-read pile!
    A side note: It’s funny that I happened to read this review today when I was just hoping that my children would take a vow of silence.  Not for any high and moral reasons, but because it would GIVE ME SOME FREAKING PEACE.  The youngest isn’t even 2 yet, and he’s learned from big bro how to whine like a pro.  Amazing little urchin.

  9. Lesley

    I’m actually waiting for this book to be delivered at the moment and cannot wait any longer!

    The thing is, the cover you show here is really nice (although isn’t that the same girl from the Crewel cover?) and there’s quite a plain one that looks good as well. The only one I could get in the UK is hideous. Like, actually horrible. I don’t know what happened.

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