Speechless was actually published a few years back, but I haven’t even known about it until recently, when I got it from Harlequin on one of their big sale days. Curious, I added it to my order, and it sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally decided to pick it up and read it (you know, because I like to continuously buy books, not read them, and then buy more).
Anyway, back to Speechless. I decided to read this book when I really wanted a contemporary, preferably something backlist that hasn’t been talked about in a while. I went through my shelves, and decided that Speechless sounded really good, and I was curious about Hannah Harrington’s writing, since I also have Saving June sitting right next to it.
I think this is one of those books that I might pick up and read again, because I really liked the way it was written – Hannah Harrington really kept me hooked while I was reading this, and I found it difficult to set down, so needless to say I finished it rather quickly.
“Keeping secrets isn’t my specialty.”
Chelsea Knot has never been able to keep things to herself, and her constant need to rise above everyone and be tight with her group of friends is shown when she stumbles upon something at a party, and quickly tells the others there what she saw. That night, someone is almost killed because of what Chelsea told her friends, and because of it, an irreparable rift forms between Chelsea and her usual group.
“After all, everyone knows Chelsea Knot doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut.”
After what happens, Chelsea decides that she can no longer be trusted not to say things that can hurt others or dig herself deeper into a rut with the people she used to call her friends, so she decides to take a vow of silence – Chelsea simply stops talking and communicating verbally at all – with everyone, even her parents.
As things start to heat up at school and Chelsea has to face the backlash of what she did, she feels completely alone. All of Chelsea’s friends, the ones who she thought she would have forever, have not only stopped talking to her, but seem to have made a pact to make her life miserable. Her locker receives hateful notes. Her car is vandalized. Chelsea is even receiving detentions for failing to communicate verbally to one of her teachers.
“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.”
It is in detention that Chelsea meets a new friend – a girl who is a social outcast and with whom Chelsea would not normally even engage with, but the girl is friendly. When Chelsea starts to spend more time with her, the two of them hit it off, and eventually she starts to spend time with some of the others in her group, who, for the most part, welcome Chelsea into their fold, despite what she did.
Chelsea has to fight her demons while trying to get forgiveness from those she has wronged, even if it is hard for her to face.
Speechless has a slight romance in it – a slow burn that while despite the fact that this book shouldn’t really be about romance, it totally fits in and I actually liked it. It wasn’t an over developed romance that lacked spark and took over the main plot of the book, either – it was actually a nice touch – barely there in the background, but enough to give the book another layer of depth.
The struggles that Chelsea must endure in Speechless are definitely the kind that most can relate to – the desire to be wanted and loved, the need to fit in, etc. Unfortunately for Chelsea, she ended up ruining everything by chasing after those desires.
Some parts of this book were kind of hard to read, and I’m not going to spoil it or anything, because it gives away information that is vital to the story, but I just got sad at the way some of the characters behaved.
Anyway, Speechless had a good cast of characters. While I didn’t feel like I could really connect to Chelsea all that much, I still liked her character and thought that it was interesting that she decided to take the vow of silence. I also liked how she decided to try to befriend some of the people that she normally wouldn’t have – and the relationship that she gets into with one of the characters is definitely the kind that made me smile.
This is the kind of story that reminds you of how cruel people in general can be. I was going to say kids, but honestly, I think all people can be the kind of cruel that the kids in this book were. It makes you appreciate the good people in your life, the friends that you know you can count on, no matter what.
Chelsea’s character develops so much in Speechless. Since I’m such a sucker for a good story with character development, you better believe that I really loved how much her character changed – for the good – from the beginning to the end of this book. It’s almost like she became a different person, and it didn’t feel forced at all.
While I honestly feel that Speechless had a lot of cookie cutter type characters (Chelsea’s old friends), I do think it was a pretty good read overall. I enjoyed reading it, even though it had kind of a predictable ending and course of events. I think Chelsea’s character was my overall favorite part of the book. I look forward to reading Saving June next!