Release Date: 28 August 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Reading/Interest Level: Grades 7 & up
Hannah Harrington’s sophomore offering deftly tackles social issues in an emotional and thought-provoking read. Sixteen-year-old Chelsea Knot is a gossip of the highest order and it’s this part of her nature that’s kept her at the top of the social ladder. But Chelsea learns the hard way that her words can cause harm. Stunned by the consequences of spilling someone else’s secret, Chelsea takes a vow of silence to learn to think before she speaks. As she silently deals with the fallout of her actions, falling from the top of the social ladder to the bottom, she finds that actions can speak louder than words and there are people who will appreciate her for who she really is. Harrington’s writing creates a sympathetic character whose actions and thoughts the reader quickly becomes immersed in. While the ending ties up lose strings perhaps a bit to cleanly, the lessons learned and the well-crafted story address important issues for today.
Speechless tackles LGBT issues from a different angle tackling bullying in high schools geared toward LGBT students. Harrington’s sophomore novel doesn’t push the issue to the back-burner after the initial fallout. The main character is forced to deal with the fact that her words caused someone else to get hurt throughout. When she eventually breaks her vow of silence, it is at the defense of another gay student. This novel has a message that is increasingly important to share with teens in our world today, where too many students have felt trapped by bullying because of their sexual orientation.