Plot: Chelsea loves uncovering secrets and sharing them with as many people as will listen. But when her gossiping incites a hate-crime, Chelsea is overcome with guilt. She decides that the only way to keep from hurting anyone else, is to not say anything at all. She has no idea how much her vow of silence will change her perspective on herself and on life.
This review is based on an ARC received at BEA 2012.
Could you imagine not speaking for a month? I can’t. In the past hour, even alone in my apartment, I’ve talked to the cat, yelled at my TV and sung along to some music. (…and now everyone on the internet knows that I’m crazy.) That’s what first peaked my curiosity about this book.
All in all, this is a fun read. Chelsea is absolutely detestable at the start of the novel; she’s all those girls I couldn’t stand in High School (and who barely knew I existed). But even so, I admit that she makes you want to hear her secrets. She does a terrible thing but her courage in speaking out against the hate-crime and in maintaining her silence in the face of both concern and bullying is commendable. Along the way, she finds herself and makes some unique, amazing friends. There is love and friendship and angst.
The story could be a bit after school special at times, like it was determined to teach me a life lesson rather than just tell me a story. But ultimately Chelsea’s changes and epiphanies are believable: she doesn’t turn into a different person but she does learn from her mistakes and becomes a better person. She, and most of the characters, are nuanced, some are even wonderfully quirky.
I was bit uncomfortable about the fact that though the pivotal event is a gay bashing, the novel focuses instead on how hard this makes Chelsea’s life. Noah, the gay boy in question, is only in a handful of scenes. It helps that this problem is acknowledged. As Noah’s boyfriend points out, “Noah isn’t some stand-in to teach you a moral life lesson. He’s a fucking person.” But it is still a problem that is worth discussing.
Speechless will be published by Harlequin Teen in September 2012.
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen