Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Interest: Author / Contemporary
Source: ARC received from publisher via NetGalley, audio purchased via Audible
Summary (From Goodreads):
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.
Audio Review: I’ve never listened to an audiobook narrated by Emily Bauer, but after listening to Speechless, I’ll definitely listen to more books she narrates. Her voice fits Chelsea’s character, especially how she’s able to make herself sound snobby and catty like Chelsea is at the beginning. I noticed, though, that as the story continued and Chelsea grew as a character, Emily Bauer’s voice became more compassionate and down to earth. It’s a subtle change, but still noticeable. Her range isn’t as broad as other narrators, especially when switching to male characters. It’s good enough that I knew who was speaking when, but her narration might not work in a book with more male characters.
Book Review: I really enjoyed Hannah Harrington’s debut Saving June, but I think I liked Speechless more. There isn’t as much grief in Speechless which was one of the low points for me in Saving June (too much grief).
I like Chelsea’s character as well. She’s not very likeable, at all, in the beginning, but as a reader you know that will change. What’s she’s done is positively horrible and I spent a bulk of the story wondering how she was going to fix what she did. She takes the vow of silence, yes, but she needs to do something more. She needs to think beyond herself in relation to what she did and who she hurt. Her revelation is a great moment in the book and really secured how much I like her character.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my all-time favorite books, so I enjoyed the parallels between it and Speechless. Chelsea is choosing not to speak because of something she did wrong, whereas Melinda stops speaking because of something done to her. It’s a distinct difference, but many of the outcomes of this silence are similar. Like Melinda, Chelsea becomes an outcast at school. Chelsea also needs to decide when it’s the right moment to start speaking again. Much of this is based on school, new friendships, family, and self-discovery. Yes, the reasons for not speaking are quite different, but the themes in both books are similar. I’ll be recommending Speechless to my Speak fans.
I will admit that there were times during the story that I wondered what was going to happen. The reason for Chelsea’s silence takes place so early in the story that I couldn’t imagine what the turning point in the story was going to be. At times I felt like I was reading a daily account of Chelsea’s life and vow of silence, but eventually that changed and I understood where Hannah Harrington was taking the story. Regardless, I still enjoyed reading it and that never failed me. None of the parts were slow or left me wanting to put the book down, I simply think authors need to be conscious of the pacing when writing a book with a strong turn of events early on in the story.