Keertana's Reviews > Speechless

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
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Jul 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: arc-galley-and-first-reads, kick-ass-heroines
Read on August 07, 2012

Rating: 4.5 Stars

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dove into Speechless. I picked it up for one reason and one reason alone – Hannah Harrington had written it. I knew, from the moment I requested it, that I would love it, but I never expected just how much. Harrington has a habit of surpassing even my wildest expectations – she did it with Saving June and she constantly does it again, every time I re-read her debut novel. Thus, while I was expecting nothing short of brilliant when I began this story, I was still awed, shocked, and, yes, speechless as I read the remarkable and richly woven new tale that she had created.

Speechless is one of those few novels that needs no introduction, no synopsis, and no plot summary to come before it. It is a story that demands to be delved into blind-folded and will be all the more appreciated for that, hence the reason I refuse to rob you all of the opportunity to read and love this story in all its raw beauty. In fact, all I can tell you about the plot of this story is that it revolves around Chelsea Knot. Chelsea is a girl we all know – she’s that girl in high school who knew all the latest gossip and didn’t hesitate to spread it around. Yet, when one tiny rumor has deadly repercussions, Chelsea decides that it would be far more prudent of her to be silent than blab her big mouth, so she takes a vow of silence.

While Speechless is, in many ways, Chelsea’s journey of silence, it is never portrayed thus. Admit it – when you think of a vow of silence, you think of monks in Tibet remaining silent to become closer to God or to gain higher spiritual truths, don’t you? Yet, Harrington never portrays Chelsea in this light and maintains that she is simply a teenage girl trying to find her way in the labyrinth of life. Chelsea isn’t perfect for taking a vow of silence – if anything, her faults are constantly thrown in her face, her failures never leave her, and she is never able to forget about the guilt she carries; but all these qualities only make Chelsea all the more real and tangible to the reader. Yes, Chelsea is a dangerously flawed and unlikable character, but that is exactly why I love Harrington so much – she has a talent of taking seemingly terrible people and showing us their more vulnerable, better, and kinder side. Each and every one of her characters contains an immense amount of depth and I loved reading Chelsea’s narration of this tale – it is brutally honest, raw, and truly eye-opening.

I have to admit that Saving June still remains to be my favorite Harrington novel, but Speechless is an impeccable sophomore novel regardless. It is one that explores the complex hierarchy of high school, that analyzes human nature, and that reveals some of the most basic truths behind happiness. Prior to the scandalous event that forced Chelsea to take her vow of silence, she used to be one of the most popular students in school but just as quickly, she fell faar down the ladder. Nevertheless, while Speechless seems like your usual run-of-the-mill high school tale, except with a slight twist, it goes much deeper than that and explores themes such as popularity, superficiality, and what it means to be yourself and find a niche that accepts you for you. It is an integral message that deserves to be heard and Harrington conveys it in a very subtle and beautifully written manner.

Speechless also contains one of my favorite cast of characters ever. Asha, the petite Indian girl who befriends the now silent Chelsea, is exactly the type of best friend you want for yourself. Plus, she’s Indian! I feel as if authors always think diversity means Japanese, Chinese, European, or African-American characters, but it’s so rare to see other races also portrayed and I was thrilled by Asha’s appearance. In addition to Asha though, Chelsea winds up becoming very close friends with Sam who is a total sweetheart. I usually have a problem with guys who are too-good-to-be-true, but Sam has his flaws as well, even if they are harder to see. Furthermore, his romance with Chelsea developed wonderfully, starting out as a strong friendship, and I loved the fact that it never detracted from the overall story in the least. Chelsea also carries on extremely complex friendships with all the members of Rosie’s Diner, the restaurant where she eventually finds a job, and with her parents too. I was glad to see them appear and make such a marked impact on Chelsea’s life which was a nice change from the usual Missing Parent Syndrome.

Ultimately though, Speechless shines, not because of its rich characters or subtly woven messages, it shines because of what it enables the reader to take away from it. More than anything, this is a story of forgiveness – of forgiving yourself, of accepting your mistakes and moving on from them, and of realizing that everything happens in life for a reason. Speechless is more than just a novel about a girl who chose to be quiet; it’s a novel about accepting your sexuality, being brave, facing your fears, and becoming a better person. It’s about not conforming with society and in many ways, it reminded me of a teenage Scarlet Letter or silent version of “Easy A” but so much better than what you could imagine those books to be like. While I did dislike the rather stereotypical portrayal of Kristen, Chelsea’s ex-best friend who shuns her, it is a small qualm to have in a novel this wonderfully written. Hannah Harrington was already one of my favorite authors, but with Speechless, she dared to explore something entirely new and take her trademark genre to new levels, which has consequently earned her my respect. I am waiting, with bated breath really, to see what she comes up with next and am utterly confident that it will be just as spellbinding and speechless-inducing as her previous works.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
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Reading Progress

08/07/2012 page 106
37.0% "I started this at 12:45 last night and fell asleep on my desk reading the e-galley at around 1:35. SO. GOOD." 6 comments
08/07/2012 page 162
56.0% "I think it's safe to say that between the swoon-worthy guys Harrington keeps coming up with, one who's a music geek and another who can cook, I am never going to be satisfied with anyone in the real world. Brilliant. I can sense my life as a spinster lusting after fictional characters beginning already! ;)" 4 comments
08/07/2012 page 204
71.0% "JAKE! *does happy dance* :D"
08/23/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Yay, I'm so, so happy you loved this one Keertana! I look forward to the full review. :)

The book I'm currently reading now, Some Girls Are has very similar elements to this book (mean girl gets a taste of her own medicine; ostracized by friends and peers sort of thing). And it is so, so intense and raw and gritty and brilliant. Anyways, my point being that if you liked this book, I'm sure you'll like Some Girls Are as well. :)


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Full review? Blimey, I thought that wa pretty awesome to start with!!

I have this book to read, but I've never actually heard/read anything by the author before since I don't read much contemporary YA.


Keertana Leanne wrote: "Yay, I'm so, so happy you loved this one Keertana! I look forward to the full review. :)

The book I'm currently reading now, Some Girls Are has very similar elements to this book (mean girl gets ..."


Thanks Leanne!(: Gosh, I've had Some Girls Are sitting on my shelf for years! One of my friends gifted that to me along with Cracked Up to Be awhile ago, but I was never interested enough to pick it up until I read This is Not a Test which was brilliant! If it's similar to Speechless though then I'll definitely pick it up soon! I'm looking forward to seeing your review and what you think of it too! :) Thanks for the recommendation - I forgot I even had it until you brought it up! ;)


Keertana Olivia *^*A Nerdy Girl*^* wrote: "Full review? Blimey, I thought that wa pretty awesome to start with!!

I have this book to read, but I've never actually heard/read anything by the author before since I don't read much contempora..."


Thanks Olivia! :) You should definitely read this novel - I loved it! Hannah Harrington is a phenomenal author and even though you don't read a lot of YA Contemporary, I'd say to give this a shot since it's very different from the usual stuff out there. It's much more profound, thoughtful, and contemplative than your usual run-of-the-mill romance these days, so I'd love to see what you think of it! I hope you enjoy it! :D


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Well I have it from NetGalley, so I'll be getting around to read it soon. Im glad to hear its different! :)


Keertana Yup, I can't wait to see what you think of it! :D I really hope you like it!(:


message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 09, 2012 09:54PM) (new)

Keertana wrote: "Leanne wrote: "Yay, I'm so, so happy you loved this one Keertana! I look forward to the full review. :) The book I'm currently reading now, Some Girls Are, has very similar elements to this book..."

Haha, you're welcome. :) I just finished Some Girls Are today, and wow. Gritty and raw, almost painful to read. It's similar prose to Cortney Summer's other novel, This Is Not a Test. The themes are similar to Speechless as well, but honestly, Speechless is so much tamer, less vile and relentlessly cruel. My blood pressure was abnormally high whilst reading! Anyways, I look forward to what you think of it, whenever you get to read it, that is. :)


Keertana I felt that way even with This is Not a Test - as if it was almost painful to read but I just couldn't stop. I'll definitely pick it up soon! I love the fact that Summers can write contemporary fiction with a punch and a true message behind it, but I loved Speechless for its simplicity. It managed to convey so much more in its subtlety than what it directly said, which I adored. I'm really excited for you to read Saving June and I hope you enjoy it! It's much more different from Speechless, but contains the same type of subtlety and hard-to-like characters as well as complex relationships, but I think you might enjoy it more since the characters are older, which gives the novel a slightly more sophisticated feel. :)


♥Rachel♥ I ended up loving this one too, Keertana. And yay, an Indian friend! Asha was so wonderful, so was Sam, swoon for the normal and lovely romance. Great review. :)


Keertana Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Rachel! It was beautifully written and I loved Sam! :) Asha was such a great friend too, so I loved how Harrington took such a cliched novel and really made it work! :D Have you read Saving June? If not, I think you'll really enjoy that one since it has a road trip in it. I actually liked it more than Speechless, but I do think most people liked Speechless more, but I'd love to see what you think of that one as well! :)


♥Rachel♥ Oh gosh, I LOVED Saving June, Keertana, it was 5 stars for me!


Keertana Yayy! I gave it 5 Stars as well, Rachel!(: I thought you might be one of those few people like me who would like it more than Speechless, so I was right! I just adored the small cameo with Jake and Harper in this one! It was so cute, although I wish we could have seen a bit more! ;)


Purcheria I'm all over this one. Im starting it today. Hope to like it as much as u did


Keertana Yay! I'll be looking out for your review when you're done then! If you liked Saving June you'll love this one too and if you didn't enjoy or haven't read Saving June, I think you'll still like this. A lot more people seemed to enjoy this one more than Saving June, so I hope you like it! :)


Purcheria I havent read Saving June, but I'm liking this one already.


Keertana Purcheria wrote: "I havent read Saving June, but I'm liking this one already."

Yay! You should try Saving June someday too...I loved it! :)


Purcheria Maybe I will. I really like this author's writing.


Keertana I'd highly recommend it for sure!(:


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