Book Review: Speechless

Published by Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Genre: YA contemporary
288 pages 
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: ARC kindly provided by Publisher via NetGalley

Speechless follows Chelsea, a wannabe popular girl who is in with the right crowd but doesn't really enjoy life. She's shallow and kind of stupid to start with. She lies to her parents, drinks a lot and makes out with boys she doesn't even like so that she seems perfect to the other bitchy girls she hangs out with. Then, something happens at a party where Chelsea is the only one to see it and she can't keep her mouth shut. People get seriously hurt as a result, and Chelsea starts out on a voyage of self discovery that sees her finally doing the right thing. She decides that since she can't say anything nice, she won't say anything at all. Her parents and teachers don't necessarily understand, but they come to accept it.

I liked mute Chelsea. She thought about her actions, and about how she impacted people around her a lot. She came to realize how fake her life had been, and she took steps to be a little more 'real'. She made friends with genuine people, who she would previously only have talked to to sneer at, and all in all she became a decent and likable person. It was convenient that people made an effort with her, which in reality might not have happened... but that would have made for a fairly depressing story. So I enjoyed watching Chelsea slip into a new social group who let their hair down, acted their age and had fun without worrying about how they looked all the time. 

She dealt with a lot of hassle at school during this journey of muted self-discovery, and I think that her reactions were generally really good. Teens reading this would hopefully see the value of her choices and come away thinking that she would be a good role model. I also think that there was a really nice side-line about the guys Chelsea interacted with; to start with she obsessed over a guy she knew nothing about. She came to realize that she projected a lot onto him, and that it wasn't real at all, which left the door open for a gem of a guy. Sam is everything you'd want in your teenage daughter's life... a steady, happy-go-lucky guy who respects boundaries and is willing to step up when needed. I adored him! 

In summary, I think this is a fun read with a worthwhile message that many teens could do with hearing. I don't think it is necessarily a life changer, but it kept me well entertained and it has some interesting points for discussion at the end, which a teenage book club could get really stuck into. This makes me want to go out and read some more contemporary YA fiction! 

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.


  1. Thanks for the review. I think this is the 1st review I've read for this book. Shocking considering the buzz.

    Do you think this would be a MG read? Too mature or right on?

    1. If by MG you mean middle-grades, then I would add a word of caution that the events which set up the story are a touch on the graphic side for me to be really confident recommending it to that age group.

      There's bullying behavior and one character gets beat up pretty bad for being gay. The main character, Chelsea, walks in on a sexual encounter too, which isn't so appropriate.

      I'd say if you're at all in doubt, read it first and decide but I'd be tempted to say that you would be better off holding this one back from the middle graders.

  2. Really good review Jen! It sounds like a unique spin in YA contemporary!

  3. Thanks for your review! This sounds so good! I'm happy it's not one of the 'life-changer' books, those get me entirely too emotional!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  4. I have seen this book around the blogosphere for a while and I really need to get this book. I am very intrigued by it and have been trying to find more YA contemporary novels to read.

    Great review, Jen.

  5. I have seen this one around a lot and I think it will be interesting to read a book from the point of view of a person who isn't speaking. Great review!

    1. The internal dialogue is well done, and I enjoyed the different perspective. Happy reading!


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