Saturday, March 30, 2013
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
272 pages, YA Contemporary
My Rating: 4 stars
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.
My 2 cents
This contemporary is mainly about bullying, especially gay bullying. Its a topic that I really haven't read too much about in YA, but I think its badly needed to be written more of. The author gets kudos from me to even attempt to stab at this topic!
So, Chelsea is popular. Her best friend, Kristen, is the queen bee of the school, and Chelsea is sort of the tagalong. She loves to find out people's secrets, and also loves to gossip. Her life is pretty shallow at this point, even though its clear she's not really happy with it. While at a huge crazy party at Kristen's house, Chelsea gets herself pretty drunk. She stumbles in on a make out session between 2 boys. One of them, Noah, is good at sports and also considered pretty popular. No one knows that he's gay. Well, of course, Chelsea has to go tell all her friends at the party. This is a huge mistake, as Kristen's boyfriend, Warren, chases down Noah and beats him into a coma.
Chelsea at this point has passed out drunk, but when she gets home the next morning, she hears all about it from her parents. She feels so guilty, as she's the one who outed Noah, she confesses to her parents that she was at the party (hence an immediate grounding), and that she saw Warren go after Noah. After all this, Chelsea starts the vow of silence--and spends the next few months dealing with the fallout of ratting on the queen bee's boyfriend.
What I loved about this story is the current YA trend of "popular girl turned normal." Chelsea was obviously not happy being popular, but she doesn't realize how wrong her life was until she is now at the bottom of the heap, and gets to experience things through another point of view. She learns a lot about friendship and people's intentions. There is a little romance in the book, which was nice, but the main stuff of the novel was more coming of age for Chelsea.
My only issue is at the very end of the novel, it starts to become too "Happily Ever After." After all the crap the entire school was pulling on gays in general (it gets really nasty) I had trouble believing most of the Winter Formal scene. But that's pretty minor, and maybe the author is just trying to set an example of how teens should be reacting.
The character development was very good in this one. I got to know all of the characters very well, not just the MC. Chelsea makes friends with a whole new group of outstanding people: Sam, Asha, Dex, and Andy. They were all great three dimensional characters. This was a great contemporary exploring complex teen issues!