Erin's Reviews > Speechless

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
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's review
Sep 25, 2012

really liked it

I am giving this book four stars because it is well written and highly readable, along with having a good message that everything you do and say matters. Sometimes teens really have no idea how a few careless words affect other people.

Now here's what I didn't like about it: The characters are totally cliche...the bad popular people, the good fringe people...sigh..because we all know that kids who take art classes never pick on anyone because they're more evolved than good looking people, right? (rolls eyes). The topic of bullying has become the "issue" of teen novels today, just like anorexia in the 70's, drugs in the 80's, etc. Unfortunately, the books written on the subject are just as unrealistic and follow the accepted formula the media uses to discuss this topic. I went to 8 different schools when I was growing up and frankly was often on the receiving end of hatred/bullying from jealous thing I can tell you is that in 8 schools I went to, I never saw anyone picked on for being gay, for being non-white, or for any of the other reasons the media likes to harp on..what I did see were fat, ugly girls picking on pretty girls, guys spreading rumors about girls who wouldn't "put out", white kids getting beat up by blacks, etc. I wish when these books were written, they presented bullying as it really happens, not in the PC viwepoint that actually engenders more bullying. Truth: Pretty girls are rarely mean girls, because they just don't have that type of insecurity which is where a lot of bullying begins. Truth: If you are the only black kid in a white school, you are most likely going to be pretty popular, whereas if you're the only white kid in a black school, you are likely to get beaten up pretty regularly.

Going back to this book, what makes it work is really Chelsea's change in maturity and viewpoint, as she realizes that she was trying too hard to do what Kristen wanted, rather than be her own person. I think every girl goes through having that friend who isn't really a friend. Girls in general can be pretty mean to each other, using other girls and being overly competitive.

Chelsea claims she has no problem with someone being gay, yet when she walks in on two boys getting it on at Kristen's party, she is a little grossed out and has to tell everyone...later, one of the boys admits he left the door open on purpose because he wanted someone to walk in, because he wanted people to know he and his boyfriend were gay and get a reaction. Everyone has their own agenda and that is true to real life. The problem is, you don't always know what reaction you will get when you purposely try to stir things up and I think all the characters learn that the hard way. In real life, I doubt the story would have played out like it did here... even with the principle characters being so drunk. Most likely there wouldn't have been a story, other than a few rumors and maybe some uncomfortable feelings on both sides. The book does have a pro gay agenda, as many times the phrase "there is nothing wrong with homosexuality" is used and Chelsea describes the two boys relationship as beautiful in the end... I think the author was definitely trying to normalize homosexuality for young readers who may find the idea uncomfortable. There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance and that seems to be the driving point of the gay movement....tolerance is no longer okay, we must all be in agreement that homosexuality is right and voice that...tolerance just isn't enough.


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