Monday, November 5, 2012

Review of Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Harlequin Teen
by Hannah Harrington
5 Stars

Chelsea loves secrets, precisely because she never keeps them. In fact, sharing the secrets of other people has put her at the top of the social food chain. Chelsea is one of the most popular girls at school after all—everyone wants to bask in the spotlight with her and Kristen, Chelsea’s best friend—so, she’s not planning to clam up any time soon. But one night at a party Chelsea has too much to drink, and before she knows it she shares a secret that threatens the life of a student at her school, and threatens to make her a social outcast in the process.

The perspective in this edgy novel is what makes it so very powerful. At first, the story seems to be told from a villain’s point of view; let’s face it, Chelsea comes off as a heartless human being. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the reader starts to sympathize with her—to imagine what she must be going through. This story could take place in any high school, and we all know high school is a warzone. Like most people, Chelsea would rather feed on the misery of others than be a nobody, or worse, a meal for the social elite. And let’s face it, Chelsea loves that she matters and that people are jealous of her. Who doesn’t want to matter? So when Chelsea finally chooses to speak out for the right reasons and is (ironically) punished for it, it’s hard not to jump in her corner.  

The secondary characters, Asha, Sam, Andy, and even Noah are equally interesting; they all work at a local diner and have a tight bond. When Chelsea meets Asha in detention and starts hanging out at the diner with her, each of these characters begins to guide Chelsea without even realizing it, towards much-needed healing. Through each meal served and dish washed, Chelsea learns that forgiveness is a gift, “hate is easy,” and love “takes courage” especially love for self. Perhaps most amazing of all is that Chelsea remains quiet (or “speechless”) through the majority of the novel, and in her silence the author allows the reader to become her voice, to speak, and feel, for her as if by magic; it’s hard not to walk in Chelsea’s shoes and want to be her advocate—to fight for her. This is the brilliantly crafted story of a girl who learns from her mistakes and changes, really changes, by standing up for what is right.  And while the message is important, this is not simply a morality tale. Harrington takes the reader on an entertaining journey with truly interesting and relatable characters, funny dialogue and a little romance for seasoning –the message is just gravy.
Applause to Harlequin Teen for picking another winner!

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