Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Speechless” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.16  ·  Rating details ·  619 ratings  ·  165 reviews
How do you give a eulogy when you can't think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.

As if being stuffed into last year's dress pants at his cousin's wake weren't uncomfortable enough, thirteen-year-old Jimmy has just learned from his mother that he has to say a few wor
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Candlewick Press (MA)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Speechless, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  619 ratings  ·  165 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Speechless
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2018
The last place Jimmy wants to be is at his cousin Patrick’s wake. Add in the fact he’s wearing last year’s outgrown dress pants and he’s about as uncomfortable as possible. That is until things get worse when his mother informs him he’ll be making a speech at Patrick’s funeral. Why him? And what can he say about Patrick, the kid who seemed to ruin everything?

Author Adam Schmitt deserves tremendous credit for tapping into such a natural voice of a thirteen-year-old boy. Jimmy is quirky, complicat
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
HOLY CATS, this was good. I was hoping for something solid, as my last few reads have been kind of ho-hum, and this more than delivered. I'm almost wishing I still had my top 10 lists of 2018 to write up because this might have made it. This story is middle grade perfection. Highly recommended, first purchase type of stuff for all libraries serving kids grades 7-10.

Jimmy has never been to a wake before, and how he is at his first one. His cousin Patrick has died and he and his parents are there
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, 2018
One of the many reasons I love Middle-Grade books is that they give me a whole new set of lenses to look through.
SPEECHLESS is a very well-written, memorable story.
Read more from The Page Walker.
Laura Gardner
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for SPEECHLESS by @adampschmitt .
I want you to know about this book. It’s intense. It doesn’t hold back. This was a "read it in a day" kind of book for me. The subject matter of this book - the accidental death of an unlikable, angry boy who clearly had unaddressed issues or special needs - is something I've never seen depicted in middle grade literature before. There are two major strengths here -- unflinching honesty and a surprising dark humor about the nature of funerals. It
Kasey Giard
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found Speechless to be one of those unexpected books. Instead of being this soft, sweet look at grief, it has this very frank, unapologetic look at some of the uglier stuff that a family goes through in a bad situation like this. Jimmy didn’t have a good relationship with his cousin Patrick. In fact, he can’t remember a single time Patrick did something admirable or noble. But there’s no way his parents will let him out of giving a speech, so Jimmy sifts back through his memories desperately l ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am taken aback! Not many books take me by surprise, but this one did! My 12-year-old daughter came home from school one day telling me, "Mom, you have to read this book". She goes on to explain that the author came to her school and talked about his new book. Afterward, the first two chapters were read in class. She gives me the 2 minute summary with such enthusiasm I couldn't help but be intrigued. We go online and put the book on hold at the library (we were 101 out of 101 on the wait list). ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ah, the old bait and switch tactic. The book starts out with Jimmy and his parents on their way to his cousin Patrick's funeral. Sounds like it should be sad, right? Nope. Jimmy was worried that his pants (bought last year) were very tight and he couldn't find his only belt and was afraid the button would pop off in front of everyone. His snarky tone and quick wit were laugh-out-loud funny.

But when the serious parts came, they kept getting more and more serious. Dysfunctional families, unrecogni
Joy Kirr
This book started strong with Jimmy at his cousin Patrick's wake. Throughout most of the book, I was wondering, "How did he die? What will Jimmy say at the funeral?" This kept me reading. I think reluctant readers will want to read each story from each chapter about how Patrick acted, as it was so over-the-top. I was in a slump in the middle of it, as I really didn't want to know what else Patrick had done that was so terrible. I loved the lesson Jimmy learned, and I hope students notice it BEFO ...more
Ms. B
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, ya, mental-illness
What if you had a cousin who was the same age as you that you didn't really like? What if you were also in the same grade and classes at school? And what if your cousin died and you are asked to give the eulogy? That's what happened to James (Jimmy) in this story that explores the awkwardness of the wakes, funerals and the grieving process when his not-so-likable cousin Patrick dies in an accident.
(view spoiler)
Mrs. Sottiriou
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the BEST books be ever read. Speechless is the story of an 8th grader named Jimmy who finds out that he must prepare a eulogy for his cousin’s funeral. There’s just one small problem: his cousin was kind of a jerk.

The story take place over the corse of 2 days. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to learn all about his cousin, Patrick, who was kind of a jerk. Kind of.

Speechless is one of those rare books that really changed me. It challenged me to question my perspective on people and
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

And I'm so glad I did!

Speechless is the sort of book that everyone should read.....middle readers, young adults, and adults.

The voice telling this story --- that of Jimmy --- is so strong. Jimmy, who is 13 years old, has been told that he has to give the eulogy at his cousin Patrick's funeral. Patrick was also 13. Jimmy spends the evening of the wake and the morning of the funeral trying to figure out what to say about Patr
Shelly Todd
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is a very good, important message in this book. The whole story takes place within a day as the main character, while attending his cousin's wake, learns that he must give the eulogy at the funeral the next day. The problem? He never liked his cousin. But the message he finally is able to send is an important, truthful one.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best middle school books I've read in a long time. I liked how the author slowly unfolded Jimmy's understanding as he remembers various events with his cousin.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Jimmy is a 13 yr old boy who’s cousin, Patrick, also 13, has recently died and Jimmy has to say a few words at the funeral. Jimmy never liked his bully of a cousin and spends most of the story reflecting on memories he has with Patrick as he tries to come up with a pleasant memory he can share at the funeral.
Jimmy relives several silly and unfortunate memories and he’s left with the realization that he has nothing positive to say about his cousin.
I think we all know that troubled kid, who bullie
Clare Lund
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. A darkly comic middle grade novel with a heartbreakingly poignant ending. Jimmy has no idea what to say when his parents inform him that he has been asked to eulogize his cousin Patrick, who died tragically when he fell through thin ice and drowned. The problem is, Jimmy never liked Patrick, and can't think of anything sincere to say about him. When he thinks back over their memories together, he notices a pattern: Patrick causing problems for everyone else around him. But the more Ji ...more
Tina Schwartz
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic! Jimmy’s voice was perfect for his age. So believable. I loved his train of thought during difficult times. So honest. I read this book in one sitting, couldn’t stop until finished! Can’t wait to write a fan letter to the author to show my appreciation for handling tough subjects. Highly recommend.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a children's book that unfolded so beautifully. It's an excellent story that slowly unravels until you realize there was always more to the story. I won't tell you more. You can read it yourself to find out.
Abby Sirois
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: t2
In the story speechless a kid named Jimmy gets the tragic news that he has to speak at his cousins wake. Jimmy is speechless because he doesn't have any good memories with his cousin they are all bad ones. He's is trying to find someone good things to say.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not sure why I waited so long to read this one. It. Was. Brilliant.
Pratibha Pandey
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
There is a reason I like middle year books with a new zeal. The way the stories unfold from the eyes of a child is fresh , honest and heartfelt.

This story is of Jimmy who has to look back his relationship with his cousin Patrick and to deliver a goodbye speech at his funeral. This is a learning and a reminder for us to know and be honest in our dealings with family and to be there to support each other in a constructive way and not to be left regretting the loss later.

This book gave my heart a
I don't know what all I can say about this book. It brought out very real emotions in me. Anger, sadness, happiness. Emotions ran the gamut and for that alone it is worth a read. For a middle grade read this was tough. But I feel there are plenty of kids out there who would be able to relate to Jimmy or even Patrick. I can't say that I would ever reread this as it made me so angry in the beginning. But it evoked tears at the end and I can say that it is definitely worth a read. Thank you to NetG ...more
Hailey Woessner
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was better than I thought it would be. When I first read the inside of it to see what it was about, it definitely didn’t look like something all too interesting. Then, when I actually read it, I realized how well the author did with explaining Patrick’s behavior and how it affected him. I also got kind of emotional at some parts of the book since it reminded me of some things that have happened in my own family.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: caudills-2021
I really didn't want to read this one- but since it is on the 2021 Caudill list, I read it. Patrick is very unlikable who had some type of mental issue- bipolar, ADHD, autism. After his tragic death his cousin Jimmy has to give a eulogy on this unlikable cousin. Jimmy struggles with having to speak at a funeral about Patrick. I like Jimmy and his analysis on how people act at a wake., and his mother's and her twins relationship.
Good read, but tough.
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grade 6 and above
Although the subject matter of this book is serious and mature the author has handled it with great sensitivity. The author uses humor to describe Jimmy's (not always pleasant) memories of his deceased cousin Patrick. Really honest writing about a most uncomfortable subject. This book is a 2021 Rebecca Caudill Award nominee.

Reviewed by: Vinita Hulyalkar, Circulation, Vernon Area Public Library
Julia Bickford
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trimester-2
This book was not the best book I have read. The one thing that I liked about it was that it showed how kids could say anything they were thinking. The thing that I didn't like was the chapters were to long they were like 40 pages and the author took moments that didn't need to be stretch out and made them longer than need. It wasn't the worst book I read but not the best book.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was rather unique, and after reading it I had to take time to think about its message. In many ways I feel as though my life reflected into certain parts of the story, and that's why it became more or less difficult to chew on. All in all, it's changed my view on certain things, and I'm rather thankful. My father liked it too.
Jeremiah Henderson
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book on a whim because of a great review in an Indie lit magazine. It was stunning. I have never seen grief and anger written this way and I throughly enjoyed the book. I would highly recommend this book.
Chris Heffernan
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a middle school teacher, there are so many things I understood perfectly in the book. The struggles that we all have with knowing how to act and what to say in “normal” moments is magnified in difficult settings.
Listen more than you speak.
Jimmy's cousin Patrick went and did one last stupid thing to ruin everything: Patrick died. How can Jimmy eulogize Patrick when he can't think of a single nice thing to say about his cousin? A simultaneously humorous yet heartbreaking story of family, grief, loss, and the unexpected ways in which we grow to understand ourselves.

I don't understand why everyone isn't talking about this book. Certainly among the best Middle Grade I've read this year, an impressive debut.
Dee Dee G
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The only things I can say about this book is that it’s fantastic and raw at the same time. I didn’t expect that ending.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees
  • Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961
  • Drum Roll, Please
  • Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring
  • The Only Road (The Only Road #1)
  • A Good Kind of Trouble
  • Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court
  • Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen
  • Spirit Hunters
  • Nowhere Boy
  • Nightbooks
  • Resistance
  • The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
  • Hope in the Holler
  • Power Forward
  • The Parker Inheritance
  • Lifeboat 12
  • Max and the Midknights
See similar books…
Adam P. Schmitt has lived outside of Chicago his entire life. His family currently lives in Oswego, IL, where the race of suburbia meets the quiet of farm country.

He met his wife on an awful blind date, but since she was after his money and fortune from being a public middle school teacher, they did end up going out again. They have two boys (Aidan, Anderson) who keep them busy with sports, cat v

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
23 likes · 10 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »