speechlessSpeechless by Hannah Harrington
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

God, you guys, I am just so ashamed that I thought YA contemporary was shallow. This is another just heart-wrenching book, with a more realistic protagonist. Chelsea was popular once, the kind of popularity achieved by being the most popular girl’s BFF/lap dog. She uses information as leverage, to make people laugh, to make herself feel better than the person she’s gossiping about. There are no consequences for Chelsea until the night she tells a secret and a boy gets beaten into a coma. Chelsea can’t keep this secret and goes to the police, which loses her all of her friends. She is alone, and she regrets her decision to tell almost immediately. All she wants are her friends back. She’s very grating and obnoxious at first, but she has a visible arc of growth, and it’s fantastic.

Chelsea stays silent for about a month, and learns so much about herself and the lifestyle she led with her former BFF. She continues to have moments of regret, moments where she misses her old life fiercely. It’s not until the end that she truly realizes what she did was right. Hearing about Noah’s injuries wasn’t the same as seeing them, it turns out. Chelsea is tough. She’s a little hard to like at first, but she definitely grows. She’s not willing to lie down and take the abuse doled out by her classmates, resorting to glares and gestures. She refuses to be broken. This is a coming of age tale wrapped up in a larger message: Chelsea learns so many things about herself while we all learn that homophobia is real and pops up in unexpected, and unfortunate, places.

The romance in this one was super cute too, partially because Chelsea is a little oblivious, partly due to Sam. He’s sweet, and he starts off not really interested in even Chelsea’s friendship. You know how Edward Cullen turned into a horrible person to keep Bella away from him? Sam keeps Chelsea away by showing his indifference. That’s all it really takes. You don’t have to act like a jerk to push people away. Sam grows too, and we get to see this tableau of characters that I didn’t find stereotypical. I just really liked the majority of the pieces in this novel. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is! Harrington’s writing style is perfect for the topic and she gives voice to the characters really well. Check it out! And then come back and read my review of Saving June. 🙂