Should she or shouldn’t she? Speechless

I’ve read a few Young Adult titles lately, and I’ll admit to have enjoyed them probably more than I had expected that I would. They’ve been absorbing, complex and pretty unique.

But, I’m well aware of the fact, as I review these books for TBYL that I’m reading and reviewing them as an adult. My view of them could possibly be quite different to that of an actual teen. And so…

I’m really happy to introduce a brand new TBYL Reviewer, Clea Boyd-Eedle. Clea is a teen, and has kindly offered to give us her perspective on this really exciting genre. This month, Clea has read Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (Harlequin Teen). Here’s what she thought…

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“Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret…”
I suddenly think I am about to read another story about another silly teenager who again did something she shouldn’t have. And in a way it is, but it’s also more than that.

“Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed.”
That’s when I started to listen, what secret could have been so dangerous? To me, it seems as if no real debatable topics are ever presented in chick-lit young-adult fiction, just glossy versions; usually never anything serious. What could this story have that was different?

“Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting everyone else. And if she thinks keeping a secret is 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 forgive what she’s done.”

Hannah Harrington’s second novel, Speechless(Harlequin Teen) is refreshing to read – the teenaged characters have been portrayed as they really are, without fine-coating everything. It is written in a language actually relatable to teenagers.

Speechless is set in your average American community, complete with parties full of red solo cup scenarios, one of which turns very ugly. What makes this book really interesting is just how a public issue is addressed and presented to the teenagers in the story.  I haven’t read of a situation like this before in any young-adult fiction.

The stories main character, Chelsea Knot is under the wing of the top girl, Kristen, making her somewhat popular and in with ‘that’ crowd. Red-headed, but not exactly fiery, Chelsea is clumsy with her words and is notorious for saying everything and anything her ears come across, which up until ‘that night’ hadn’t caused her any serious consequences, surprisingly. Since things turned bad, Chelsea has made a vow of silence and an effort to make things right. This in turn earns her the hatred of half her school, but also relationships blossom with people she would never have considered as friends.

Meeting Chelsea in detention, Asha is the friend everyone wants. Asha is quirky (she actually knits…seriously), an incredibly loyal and defensive friend (even though Chelsea didn’t speak a word to her) and a real people-person. I admittedly fell in love with Asha before Chelsea, envying her characteristics and wondering what made her so admirable.

And of course, where there’s girl’s teenaged fiction there is almost always, and inevitably, boys; and the choice between two. Sam is an artsy character, quite similar to Asha, who decides to help Chelsea out despite clearly having problems with her original popular position – will the relationship work or not?

Speechless was a great book, perfect for your typical teenaged girl looking for more insight into high school life, how to overcome problems (although not talking may not always be the solution) and more assurance that their issues are normal.  If you like Louise Renninson or Sarah Dessen you’re sure to enjoy Hannah Harrington’s, Speechless.

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I’m really looking forward to hearing more from Clea in the future, what a great way to work out what’s good in the world of YA fiction!

You can find out more about Speechless here…

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