Welcome back to Standalone Saturday, in which I feature a book that does NOT have a sequel or a prequel.
by Hannah Harrington
To be published by Harlequin Teen
on August 28, 2012
Source: ARC from the publisher at BEA (Book Expo America.) Read my review policy/disclosure here.
My summary: Chelsea loves hanging around with her best friend Kristen. sneaking out behind her parents' backs to go to parties, laughing at those not lucky enough to be part of the in-crowd. Then one night, Chelsea finds out a secret. She could keep it to herself, but she can't resist spreading it around. Something terrible happens as a result. Hoping to gain some clarity, Chelsea takes a vow of silence. But she'll have to do more than that to make things right.
My thoughts: I loved Hannah Harrington's debut novel, Saving June, and so was super-excited to read this. (If you missed my review of Saving June, you can find it here.) Speechless cements my opinion that Hannah Harrington is a great new YA contemporary writer.
Hannah Harrington excels at writing female characters with an edge. Harper in Saving June tended toward the snarky and prickly. As Speechless opens, Chelsea is a little shallow. I'm full of admiration when an author takes a fairly unlikable character, then completely turns my opinion around. Chelsea isn't a horrible person, but she's one of those girls who is willing to do whatever it takes to stay popular. One night, she's been drinking and she's surrounded by her friends. She sees something she knows is gossip-worthy, and blurts it out to the group.
I don't know what I expected to happen when I told everyone. I guess I thought It'd be a funny story, or at least a memorable one. It'd be the kind of thing where later, every so often someone could bring it up by saying, "Hey, remember when Chelsea--"The consequences of Chelsea's actions are horrible, and she does what she can to make things right. But she also remembers an article she read about a monk who took a vow of silence. So she decides to do the same.
Chelsea then discovers that listening can be more powerful than talking, that her so-called friends never really had her back, and that she's a stronger person than she knows. While I can't say there's anything surprising about most of this, I found the story gripping and emotionally moving. The writing is good, everything feels realistic, and even though I had a strong feeling about how things were going to turn out, I was seriously invested in this story until the very last page.
All the characters in Speechless had some surprises in store for me. By far my favorite was Asha the math nerd. I was a general nerd in high school, but without those math skills that would have come in handy later on! Sam is one of those where-were-the-boys-like-this-in-my-high-school guys, with his 90s movie references and general adorableness.
I definitely recommend Speechless and can't wait to read whatever Hannah Harrington writes next!