Sunday, September 23, 2012

50! Speechless

Book #50!: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Published: August 28, 2012
288 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(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.

I can't imagine not talking for a month, let alone a day, but Chelsea Knot does it because she knows it's what she has to do. Her mouth has gotten her into a lot of trouble and I'm sure we can all relate to that. We hear gossip and we feel the need to spread it, to tell anyone that will listen. Chelsea is best friends with Queen Bee Kristen Courteau and she knows gossip is what's keeping her glued to her side. We do and say things we may regret to get where we want to be. Popularity is important, especially in high school, and I'm sure if I had the chance to be the most popular girl in school's right hand girl, I would have done whatever it takes. Unfortunately for Chelsea, that meant blurting out a terrible secret that nearly got someone killed. So Chelsea does what she knows is right - she tells her parents about what happened. This ostracizes her from her classmates, puts in Kristen's line of bullying, and goes straight to the bottom of the food chain - all without saying a word.

Chelsea keeps her mouth shut after realizing that everyone at school thinks she's a rat. She knows it's safer to keep her mouth closed than to hurt anyone else. Alone and scared, slurs being written on her locker and  cruel emails being sent out, Chelsea decides that if she can just get through the rest of high school, she'll be okay. She doesn't plan on telling anyone about the bullying since it all started because she told someone about it. She kills herself everyday for what happened and she doesn't think she deserves forgiveness. But when Asha decides she's going to be nice to Chelsea anyway and invites her to hang out at the diner she works out, Chelsea sees a whole other side of high school.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot because it's flawless. I like that the description is sparse and that all we really know is that she's taken a vow of silence. Chelsea is your average popular girl, ready to do whatever it takes to stay on top. But when she's dropped, we get to know the real her. We hate her at first, but throughout the course of the novel, you realize who she really is and that she is a nice person, she's just made some mistakes. Her new group of friends, Asha, Sam and the rest of the group that works at the diner treat her like an equal and she learns a lot about herself that she didn't realize. Asha is adorable, she's a lot like I was in high school, keeps to herself and her friends ad people think she's weird. Sam is, well Sam is perfect. He is the type of guy I dated in high school: artsy, lanky, caring and thoughtful. Chelsea is blessed with a new chance and it's up to her not to mess it up.

I probably gave away too much but I can't help it. This book was written wonderfully and it plays out like high school would. I'm glad the bullying was subtle because it's more realistic that way. A lot of bullying happens that adults can't see. Emotional bullying and name calling may not seem like a big deal, but it hurts everyone involved in it. Harrington addresses it properly, showing the victims in both lights. Chelsea is the victim but she also has to face that victims that she was responsible for getting harmed. It's not your average mean girl turned good girl story. Chelsea knows what she did was wrong and she is trying to change that. Harrington captured high school life to a tee and I hope reading this book will help victims of bullying to speak up and not keep it inside. Gossip is one thing, but bullying is a completely other planet.

“Hate is... It's too easy. Love. Love takes courage.”  

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