Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: Speechless

SpeechlessAuthor Hannah Harrington
Release: August 28th 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Paperback, 228 pages

A popular girl, queen bee’s best friend, in fact, but one that never felt like she really belonged, commits an unforgivable offense against the in-crowd and becomes a social outcast overnight. Left without other options and tired of being the target of abuse, she starts spending time with the weird girl and her group of friends and, after a lot of personal growth and quite a few enlightening moments, realizes there’s more to life than malls and glitter.

Yes, that is a description of at least a hundred YA contemporary books. Yes, Speechless is one of them. Yes, I usually stay as far away from them as possible, and I intend to keep doing that in the future. But this is Hannah Harrington, you know? And despite all my fears and reluctance, she truly made it work.

That’s not to say that I didn’t struggle at the beginning. The mean girls theme is one of my deal-breakers – those things I just can’t force myself to read about, and that’s what the beginning of Speechless is all about. It didn’t help that Chelsea, the main character, was constantly trying to prove herself to them. Such things always leave a bad taste in my mouth. I still remember Pink by Lili Wilkinson and the exact moment I realized that her main character, Ava, reached the point of no redemption. All those Very Important Life Lessons that came after couldn’t save her in my eyes. When you’re done, you’re done.
I loved that, loved that I mattered, that people were jealous. I loved turning heads. It didn’t matter that most of them were looking at Kristen; I was in their line of vision, and that totally counted for something. Being on the radar at all. It made me more than average. It was everything to me.
Fortunately, Chelsea realized the magnitude of her mistakes just before reaching that point. I was angry with her, but Harrington’s timing was superb, and that’s what saved the book for me. She turned things around at the very last acceptable moment, and she exposed her main character to abuse, which made me feel sorry for her first, and gave me a chance to genuinely like her later.

Oddly enough, romance was once again my favorite part. A slowly developed attraction between a normal-looking boy (no heart-stopping gorgeousness here) and a very flawed girl was simply too realistic and heartwarming to ignore. I loved how Sam changed in Chelsea’s eyes. At first, she saw nothing special about him, apart from the fact that he was being nice to her when he had every reason not to be, but after some time together she started seeing him differently, until suddenly nothing about him felt ordinary anymore. That’s the kind of love I want to read about – just people falling in love with other people. We can’t all fall for, or even appreciate, perfection.
… I was never happy before, and I never even realized it. 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.
In the end, I feel it’s necessary to point out that Speechless is nothing like Saving June. On the one hand, it’s a good thing. Diversity is always good and it would be a disaster for a young author like Hannah Harrington to fall into a repetitive pattern. On the other hand, if you’re expecting to recreate the emotions Saving June left you with, you might end up just a little bit disappointed. Separate these two books in your mind and then go out to grab a copy of Speechless. I doubt you’ll regret it.


  1. I'm so happy that you enjoyed this! I disliked Chelsea at first as well but Hannah is such a fantastic writer, she had me wanting to be Chelsea's friend by the end. And I adored the slow build up between her and Sam (he sounds like an awesome guy!)

    Great review, hun!

  2. Wonderful and spot on review Maja! I felt the very much the same about Speechless. The characters in the beginning were so distasteful to me that I almost put the book down, but I'm so glad I didn't because it ended up being well worth reading.

  3. You know I felt similarly about the beginning - while it was expected, it was still difficult to read - but I really ended up enjoying this once Chelsea started to improve. The romance was my favourite part too. Wasn't Sam such a refreshingly normal character? I adored him. Brilliant review, Maja!

  4. Can't wait to get my hand on this! After reviews and reviews and finally reading this review i'm definitely picking it up (and at the same time Saving June)! Thanks for sharing you thoughts! =D

  5. Yay! I'm so glad this worked out for you, Maja, despite the rough start you had. I think the romance was my favorite aspect of this novel too and it was much more subtle and sweet than the all-out sexual tension in Saving June (although Jake and Harper are still my favorites)! Wonderful, wonderful review, Maja! :D

    Ivy Book Bindings

  6. I love this review Maja! You totally nailed everything I felt about this book, Chelsea definitely blew hot and cold with me, but like you I was glad that she realised her mistakes early on. This is definitely a lot different from Saving June, but Harrington's writing and secondary characters made this a memorable book for me. So I'm glad you enjoyed it too! :)

  7. I've yet to read Saving June but I definitely will now because I really loved Speechless. You mentioning is like the kick in butt I just need to finally give it a go. Chelsea definitely redeemed herself for me as well and I appreciated the love story as well. Great review! :D

  8. My heart is swelling over the fact that the romance was your favorite part! *happy dance*

    I'm not into the mean girl theme either, but now I'm going to have to check this one out, just to see how normal looking people fall in love. LOL

  9. I totally love the mean girl theme. ;) Only when it's really dark though - which you probably already knew, haha. I wasn't a fan of Saving June so it's a positive to me that you say this one is different. And I completely agree about YA romances - I wish more of them would be less superficial and more slow-building.

  10. This was so good! I was worried I would hate Chelsea but she grew so much and I was so proud she did the right thing almost right away. I understand a need to be recognized and liked even if you go about it the wrong way. I think that happened to many high school students Desperate to fit in and they make mistakes. Her friend was evil. Sam was sweet and I loved the slow build of their relationship. This was a little different than Saving June but I found them both very emotional and interesting.

  11. This book sounds heartbreaking, but you have me so intrigued (especially with the romance) that I am going to have to add it to my list. Thank you for the wonderful and incredibly insightful review, Maja!

  12. Maja, I love your review! You are so articulate, darling. It makes me so happy to see a positive review for this novel- I personally loved it, so seeing other readers and bloggers share the same feeling is wonderful. And in spite of your initial concerns with the "mean girls" plot (which I'm usually not a fan of either) I'm thrilled you warmed up to this. Hannah Harrington is truly a master at writing... :)

  13. Haha, well I haven't read Saving June yet (seriously need to though!) so it shouldn't be too tough to seperate them for me :) Love your review, Maja! I'm so glad that the MC didn't pass the point of no return... I've found that happen to me in stories as well and I can't stand it. And yay for a normal-looking boy! :) I can't wait to read the romance in this. Thanks for the great review! <3


  14. How is it you've read this vanilla before me?!!! And more shocking, you liked it. See, I always knew you were a closet vanilla queen. Soon you'll be the third voice in our "vanilla queens dream reads" posts. Lol! Wonderful review, Maja! I can't wait to dive into this (and Spark!!) once I have a free moment. :)

  15. Wow! What a superb review! You put my feelings about this book into words (except the part about Saving June being better!).
    I'm not a big contemporary fan either and I had doubts about Speechless (I disliked Saving June), but Harrington wrote it just right :)
    Running off to see what you thought of Eve & Adan!
    Ana @ BookSpark

  16. oh, man

    mean girls is so not my thing either. true testament to harrington that she managed to suck me in to this book despite all that palava.

    x Nomes


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