Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher
About the Book: 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. Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut and to stop hurting anyone else.
Speechless explores the real-life teen issues of bullying, mean girls, LGBT awareness and hate crimes. Compared to the many books already out about bullies, Harrington’s novel stands out for its authentic voice and unflinching portrayal of what it means to be part of the bullying. In October 2012, Harlequin TEEN will be releasing a brand new survey that has interviewed 1,500 girls between 13-18 years old on the subject of bullying.
My Thoughts: I am always interested in reading books about bullying and how teens deal with it. I think much of this comes from being a teacher and a school librarian. I go in to each book with a bit of trepidation. Will this read like an after school special? Will the teens' struggles be glossed over and "prettied" up? And what about the teachers.... are they oblivious? Do they allow the bullying? Does the book perpetuate the belief that there is nothing teachers can/will do about it so don't go to them for help? These are all things I fear when reading a "bullying" book. Thankfully Speechless did not fall in to these "traps."
First and foremost I feel the need to say that while bullying is certainly a big issue in Speechless I wouldn't call it a book about bullying. The characters and their choices are very much the focus. This is a book about Chelsea and Noah and Sam and Andy and Asha and all the rest. It's about being in high school and figuring out who you are. It's about friendships, true and superficial. It's about learning from your mistakes and admitting you were wrong. It's about forgiveness. It's about love. Basically, it's about life.
Speechless kept my attention and had me invested in what was going on in the characters lives. I would certainly add this book to any high school collection.