This book was such a surprise. Speechless by Hannah Harrington has a great premise: Gossipy girl takes a vow of silence after telling someone else's secret nearly gets that person killed. But the plain white cover, the starkness in comparison to every other book on the shelf was what initially drew me.
I'd read the summary for the book several times--on Goodreads, reviews, other blogs. But I loved the look of this edition b/c it spoke to me (no pun intended). This unique cover told me in not so many words that, "This book is different."
And it was.
Chelsea Knot, our main character, is one of those girls. A mean girl. A popular. A girl who knows what it takes to stay in the inner-circle and doesn't mind telling others' secrets to stay there. Don't believe me? Here's a taste of Chelsea's voice.
"Keeping secrets isn't my specialty. It never has been, ever since kindergarten when I found out Becky Swanson had a crush on Tommy Barnes, and I managed to circulate that fact to the entire class, including Tommy himself, within our fifteen-minute recess--a pretty impressive feat, in retrospect. That was ten years ago, and it still may hold the record for my personal best."--pg. 1 Speechless
Love it. Here's this girl who holds a "personal best" in gossip. The voice was quick, witty, and Chelsea's character was obviously flawed. I was instantly in the story. I knew from the summary that Chelsea was in for a wake-up call, and I wanted to see if Harrington could pull off that difficult balance between light/fun voice and dealing with a tough/darker subject and still make it believable.
I'm going to be honest: I don't like books about popular girls who start out all bitchy and then suddenly turn over a new leaf. 1) B/c that's just not the way things really are, and 2) B/c I hardly ever buy it. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I hardly ever pick up books about the mean-girl-with-a-hear-of-gold b/c I can still see the mean-hearted, selfish girl underneath in the end.
Here is where this book really soared. There was never a point where I didn't like Chelsea. I'll repeat: There was never a point where I didn't completely and utterly root for her. Why? After reading this book, I realized Harrington knew exactly what she was doing from start to finish. B/c Chelsea was never actually a mean girl.
The proof is right there in the summary. After sharing a secret that wasn't hers to share, she immediately tries to right that wrong. She turns in her BFF's boyfriend and his crew, who put another kid in the hospital, when no one else steps forward to tell the truth. She then takes a vow of silence and maintains this throughout the novel despite taunts and abuse.
Despite all this, Chelsea still thinks she's a mean girl. And that's what made me like her even more. Loved the new friends she makes in the novel, Asha and Sam. Loved how she and Sam developed a relationship through notes *sigh*. Loved how this book managed to tackle such a heavy subject while never coming off preachy. This was a great story, definitely recommended.
The romance was right on point as were the friendships and voice. But my favorite part was the mean girl who wasn't actually a mean girl. That's a hard one to write successfully--but Harrington made me a believer J.