Isolated and remorseful Chelsea takes a voluntary vow of silence, refusing to speak at school or at home. Some of her teachers roll with the idea, albeit a little reluctantly, while others seem determined to punish her until she stops acting out. At home her parents are worried about her and want her to get professional help - and if they knew about the harassment and backstabbing at school they would insist on it even more. Into this brave new world comes a new friend from an unexpected source, and Chelsea comes to understand more about herself and the defining features of life "before" and life "after". Chelsea has a lot to learn about herself, and for the first time in her life her voice is silent and instead of talking she is listening - and learning.
I started following Harlequin teens on Instagram recently and there was a photo of several of their books and one of them was Speechless - and when I looked it up I just knew it was a story I had to try. I have very eclectic taste in books (as you may have noticed) although I am a sucker for a good fantasy, science fiction, crime, or real life reads that make you stop and think. Speechless could have so easily gone badly, it could have been preachy or idealistic, but instead it is a book that feels very genuine and realistic. Chelsea is far from perfect at the beginning and she is no angel in the end, but over the course of the novel she goes on a very realistic journey of soul searching and discovering who she really is when she is by herself rather than being Kristen's best friend.
There are a lot of topics here that are suitable for class room study, but most of all it is a gripping, gritty and engaging read. Chelsea is the focus of the story, but through her eyes and her experiences we get to see a microcosm of high school life where the queen bee rules through manipulation and social control (don't the always), the ruling elite get to decide who is "in" and who is "out", and teenagers can discover that they don't have to be one of the sheep to survive high school. This is one of those rare reads for teens that is confronting and makes you think and get involved with the story, but it doesn't shove messages down your throat or resort to gratuitous sex and/or swearing. There is some swearing here, but it is natural language and adults just have to accept that! A thoroughly good read, and I am now waiting for a copy of Saving June so I can see if it is as good (or better) than Speechless.
If you like this book then try:
- Lies we tell ourselves by Robin Talley
- Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
- Thousand words by Jennifer Brown
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
- Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott
- Hate list by Jennifer Brown
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
- I swear by Lane Davis
- Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
- Hate list by Jennifer Brown
- Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
- Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings
- Whale talk by Chris Crutcher
- Pushing the limits by Katie McGarry
Reviewed by Brilla