Author: Hannah Harrington (author website | blog)
Release Date: 29 August by Harlequin TEEN Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
In Saving June, a story essentially about loss and grief, Hannah Harrington showed us light, hope and joy. So it comes as little surprise that her sophomore offering, Speechless, a story about a shallow, nasty mean-girl has unexpected depths, its own heartbreak, and a moving, poignant message that may just leave you speechless.
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's has taken a vow of silence--to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting everyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets if hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there's strength in silence, and in 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.
The StoryChelsea Knot can't keep a secret. Hell, even if it's not a secret she revels in being the first to know and passing it on. Until now.
At a drunken party, Chelsea sees something it’s not her business to tell a soul. But she does. The next thing she knows a boy’s nearly killed, two of her friends are in jail, her best friend hates her, and she’s gone from popular, untouchable princess to loathed social pariah.
Chelsea knows her mouth got her in trouble, so her solution? Keep it closed. Taking a vow of silence, Chelsea starts to change... and begins to realise maybe she hasn’t lost so much after all.
The 101Chelsea Knot is... difficult. Selfish, nasty, and sidekick to a mean girl who makes Regina George look like an angel, she’s difficult to like... but then she’s not. Chelsea’s not a character you can dive straight into, and connect with from the page one, but nor should she be. Harrington doesn't ease you into her characters. She doesn't compromise authenticity for likeability, rather allowing empathy to be a force that builds. And it does. Chelsea grows from a cruel, self-righteous, self-centred girl to someone more: Someone innately good, while losing none of her defining fire; someone deserving of empathy, and her own story. She grows throughout Speechless, and that growth is wonderfully rewarding as a reader
“Even in the movie of my own life, I’ve never been the heroine. I’ve never been Action Girl. I’ve only ever been Kristen’s supporting character.”
Harrington’s characters are imperfect. They have rough edges, flaws, and foibles, and it makes them magnificent. It’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for telling a story, whether it be a—rightly so—angry guy named Andy, the unexpected, lovely, quirky new friend, Asha, or something more: a special, sweet, unfathomably nice boy named Sam.
“Who you love... that isn’t important. It doesn’t change who you are, or how much we love you. Nothing could change that.”
“Hate is... it’s too easy,” he says. “Love. Love takes courage.”
The Verdict:Speechless is a tale of many things: love, hate and acceptance; the power of words, forgiveness and friendship. Harrington’s writing and insights are a joy, as are her cast of characters; their ‘AHA!’ moments resonate deeply, and fans will enjoy a brief but charming cameo from Harper and Jake, the protagonists of her superb debut, Saving June. Sweet, funny, poignant and heartbreaking, Speechless is a remarkable offering from an inimitable talent.
“I was never happy before, and I never even realized it. I know now. You can be surrounded by people and still be lonely. You can be the most popular person in school, envied by every girl and wanted by every boy, and still feel completely worthless. The world can be laid at your feet and you can still not know what you want from it.”