Speechless: review & giveaway

September 7, 2012 2012, 4 star books, contemporary, giveaway, Hannah Harrington, K. 76

by Hannah Harrington

I was not going to read this book. I promise you, I was not. I was so fully aware of my (standing) disappointment with Harrington’s debut Saving June, and was certain I had a firm grasp of her writing style that I had prematurely made up my mind.

Well. Sometimes people act like snobs, okay. It’s not a crime. It just makes you highly unlikeable as a human being.

Anyway. I requested this on NetGalley and as fate would have it, I got approved. It was there for my taking. And then all these reviews were popping up, giving Speechless four stars, five stars! Scoff, I say! But. But they’re not entirely, completely, like totally wrong, like they’re kind of right because it’s really not that bad omg I’m giving this four stars!

I really, really liked Speechless. Harrington’s growth as a writer is monumental. One aspect I absolutely did not enjoy in Saving June was the constant, irrepressible presence of the writer. I could only hear her, instead of her characters. Which would’ve been fine, if it were a memoir. Here, Harrington’s commentaries are alive and well, but are much more digestably subtle. She covers a vast ground of topics from typical teenage woes, to much more serious issues plaguing pop culture.

The way that she’s done it this time is effective — allowing us entry through a single perspective, Chelsea. In Saving June, multiple characters tackled specific opinions and it became too much, too tedious. Now, we see everything through one character…whose voice is so perfectly captured, it was ridiculously readable. Here is the biggest contradiction of all. In Saving June, my entire review hung on my aversive attitude towards first-person narrative. Oh, but not here. I could read Chelsea all day. And I did. Her voice is young yet contemplative, privately honest, genuinely snarky, brutally fierce. I loved her. She admitted and accepted about herself so many things that go through our own heads on a daily basis.

She makes no excuse. She is sometimes selfish, sometimes generous. Sometimes emo, sometimes compassionate. Sometimes dense, sometimes perceptive. Sometimes dull, sometimes cool. Sometimes rude, sometimes kind. Sometimes skeptical, sometimes optimistic, sometimes weak, sometimes strong. And more. Chelsea was unlikeable in the beginning, but darn did she grow on me. She isn’t a bitch. Rather, an energy misguided. She has bite but she doesn’t know where to aim. She is a genuine outspoken, stand-up-for-herself, no-bullshit kinda gal. Not Harrington’s version of sweet, innocent female protagonists who “don’t believe in themselves” until a gorgeous young boy swoops in and convinces them otherwise. Chelsea knows she’s got stuff going for her. But thankfully, her ego isn’t so big as to stunt character growth.

Now, the secondary characters. I loved Sam, Asha and the whole gang. But I’d hoped we’d have gotten more insight into them than we did. We know close to nothing about Sam and Asha’s personal lives. Did Sam have other friends? Does he have siblings? Why is he so darn cute and nice? How does Asha feel when racial jokes are thrown at her expense? How does she handle being called a freak? How does she see the good when there is so much bad? These characters were wonderful to have in the scene but I almost wanted to follow them on when they walked out. How did they get to be how they are? One exception, though, is Andy. One particular scene with Chelsea coloured his entire being all shades of beautiful. It was lovely.

Kristen, on the other hand, I was glad not to have had more out of. Why? Because that’s the point, I think. She’s not supposed to grow. She is the foil to Chelsea. Kristen is a tragic character because while she knows the truth about herself, as Chelsea accepts the truth about herself, Kristen isn’t strong enough to brave it out like Chelsea is. She denies herself freedom. Chelsea unleashes herself from chains. That’s the difference.

This was a surprise. A surprise I couldn’t get my hands off of, according to Goodreads, from August 13-16. Those were great days…yea.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars

This review also appears on Goodreads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. 

Win a Speechless ARC!

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76 Responses to “Speechless: review & giveaway”

  1. coffeebeansbookshelf

    Great review, I hadn’t heard of this book yet, but I’m adding it to my TBR pile. And don’t worry, you’re not the only person who pre-judges books based on the author’s past books… ;)

  2. Pa-ru

    Good review. Speechless sounds interesting. It’s always nice when the story is better than you expected.

  3. Pa-ru

    Good review. The story sounds interesting. It’s always nice to find the story better than what you expected.

  4. Dani Marie

    I try not to live in regret because life is too short to always be looking backwards. That said, I do regret a very simple mistake I made when I was a young girl. I didn’t trust my best friend with something. My best friend was one of those beautiful girls who I couldn’t understand at times why she was my best friend, but she was. And I didn’t trust her about something involving a boy because I was worried she would take his attention away. I should have never been worried. My best friend is like a sister to me even today (more than ten years later) but even today at times she will bring up what happened. It could have broken up a friendship. She is my family and I knew that even then and let my jealousy get the better of me. I wish I could take that mistake back and erase that blight on our friendship.

  5. Nicole T

    There are many things I regret, I admit. Ones that are way too personal to get into detail here (sorry for that). Others were a very long time ago, and so I do not really remember the details. Although people have told me countless times I should not feel regret, I still do. I always will, and that’s the downside of it I guess. You carry this guilt around with you forever, never really letting it go. Sure as time passes it gets a bit easier to carry around, but it will never truly be gone. Under all the smiles, it the guilt and regret I will feel everyday for the rest of my life, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t change it. If I could, I would 100%. But unfortunately that’s not how life works. I’m sorry if this is a long comment, but well I tend to explain myself a lot, even though I don’t really. Speechless would be a book that I would be so willing to read, and I can’t wait for the day that I can dive into this story!

  6. fauvely

    I want to read this book because I loved Saving June. It was one of the stand-out books of last year, for me. I just love her writing style.

  7. Sarah (saz101)

    How on EARTH did I miss this review?

    Oh goodness, I LOVED Speechless, and I’m so glad you did, too.

    What’s interesting me about your review, though, is that I adored Saving June. It’s an all time favorite. Yet I can see what you mean… as much as I ADORED SJ, I can see some of the elements that, while I loved, could very much seem an intrusion of the author’s voice, and not Harper’s…

    BUT. You know when you adore a book so very much, and so swept up, you just don’t care? That’d be me :P

    BUT YES YES YES to EVERYTHING about Speechless. Hannah’s grown as a writer, and… I really felt she did an extraordinary job at conveying a message–and I TOTALLY think this is a ‘message’ book–while never being heavy handed?

    I love it I love it I LOOOOOVE IT.
    Your review is PERFECT.

  8. Inge

    When I read the blurb, I was immediately interested. I’ve been looking for blind/deaf/mute fiction for a while now, and even though this is just a vow of silence, it still intrigues me. Then all the five-star reviews started showing up and now I just have to have it!

  9. greengp01

    The premise of this book sounded really interesting, so I would quite like to read it. Great reviews on goodreads too.

  10. Maru

    I really, really want to read this! I haven’t read her first novel either, but I think I’ll pass.

  11. Hilary

    I always regret my road rage when I drive, especially because I’m so mild mannered most of the time! Whenever I drive too fast in construction zones, curse in traffic, and get pissed at other people, I always feel bad afterward. This book sounds right up my alley, and you did an excellent review!

  12. Hilary

    I’m a quiet, sensitive person, but there’s something in me who turns into a complete jerk when I drive. I tend to drive too fast in construction zones, get furious in traffic, and hate when people cut me off. I always regret my actions afterward, and should probably practice calming breaths the next time I get upset! This sounds like my kind of book :)

    Hilary Boggs, Hilary.boggs@gmail.com

  13. Angela

    Whenever I’m rude to my siblings or parents, I regret it. It’s usually my fault, not theirs, and I feel bad after I say something mean.

  14. Lis

    I regreat that I cheated my best friend with her boyfriend… I know, I was a b… but well, I ruined it, even though I was really young back then!

  15. Erika

    I haven’t heard too much about this book yet so I’m glad to read your review and may give it a chance. Originally it didn’t seem like one that I’d like but I’ll see. Thanks!

  16. ZaraAlexis

    I had always regretted the way in which I broke up with my boyfriend in college. We were off and on again for two years and when I finally broke it off, I didn’t do it in the way I had hoped. It’s unfortunate because I was simply too immature and self-involved then. It may not have worked out in the end, but I had always hoped to give the relationship its due course.

  17. ZaraAlexis

    Mmm…I always regretted breaking up with a boyfriend in college the way that I did. I was too immature and self-involved to give the relationship its much deserved course. It might not have worked out in the end anyway, but I had always hoped to leave off on good terms.

  18. Christina

    Hahaha, I love this. “Well. Sometimes people act like snobs, okay. It’s not a crime. It just makes you highly unlikeable as a human being. “

    That pretty much describes me all the time. There are a fair number of books I’ve gone into expecting to hate them and judge them, but ended up loving. Of course, the reverse is also true, but still. I’ll be reading this someday in the near future and am glad to know that it comes snob-approved.

  19. Rachel

    So glad to see you enjoyed this K. I loved Saving June just a little more than this but this was excellent, IMO too. I would’ve love to know more about Sam, too. Great review and thanks for the giveaway! I read this off of Netgalley so I’d love to have my very own copy. :)

  20. A Canadian Girl

    K, I just finished this one today and I feel like your review pretty much covered all my thoughts. Chelsea really does sound like a teen and I loved that she was such a multifaceted character. I too wish we could have gotten to know more about the personal lives of her new friends though.

  21. Sydney

    I think I can connect to Chelsea a bit since I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, especially when I was young and on gossip. I would immediately regret what I said afterwords. I took my own “vow of silence” or something like that, but I didn’t last a week. At least now I can control my words more.

  22. Sydney

    I think I can connect a bit to Chelsea. I blab a lot of gossip sometimes, especially when I was younger, and would always come to regret it afterwords. I took my own “vow of silence” or something like that before, but I didn’t last a week. At least now I have better control of what I say.

  23. Jaime Lester

    I am very much looking forward to Speechless. What a vow to take. I have made so many mistakes in my 30 years, and I wish that I had done something so extreme in certain situations, to try and atone for it. I can’t wait to see the events that caused her to make her choice, and the good and bad things that come from it. There are repercussions for everything, so I am sure she will face some. Thanks so much for the chance to win. This is one I have been looking forward to.

  24. Bookworm1858

    Glad to hear this one worked better for you than Saving June. I actually enjoyed that one a lot so I expect that I’ll like this one as well.

  25. Gisele

    I regret about lending my books to ‘friends’ who dont appreciate them as I do. / I’m really excited to read Speachless since my best friend had the chance to read it!! And i’m driving myself crazy because I haven’t had the chance! Lol! Thank you for the giveaway! (Ileana-rafflecopter)

  26. Heather@The Flyleaf Review

    Ahhh, what a gorgeous review. Unlike you I liked Saving June (a lot actually) but Speechless is a whole new ball game. Harrington reminds me of Kody Keplinger, able to take the most unlikable of characters and over the course of the book somehow make me LOVE them. Like magic. Or REALLY adept writing:)

  27. Shanon (Escaping With Fiction)

    Lovely review! Chelsea sounds like an interesting character, and I like the fact that you said she was unlikable in the beginning but that changed as the story progressed. I love when there is tremendous character growth in a book!

    I’m very excited to read this book because it sounds like a unique and well-written story!

  28. Melliane

    I heard many great things about this book and I think I need to try it one day. thanks for the review and the giveaway!

  29. mary ann(RunOnce828)

    Yes I’ve done things I’ve regretted with my 17 yrs in this world. There is one wherein I could be the cause of my cousin going in a jail and it’s just because of my laziness. I don’t want to go to my parents and ask for help ‘coz that cousin was drunk that day and he was punching a guy.:((

    • K.

      If you did what you felt was right, would that still be a regret? There’s no shame in either asking for help or admitting a fault, mary ann.

  30. Ira

    I’ve been hearing great reviews about this book!! Is this giveaway available internationally? :D

  31. athousand-lives

    So much things have been said about this and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I can’t really think of a ‘major’ event where I regretted something. But it usually have something to do with me not speaking my mind. Sometimes, I regret not sticking up for others, choosing to stay silent instead.

  32. Racing Song

    One thing I regretted doing is I’ve ruined a friendship with my own hands and this deeply hurt me and my friends, I wish I didn’t do it.

    • K.

      I’ve been in a similar situation. Except my regret is not doing something…we can only move on, I suppose.

  33. Racing Song

    I’ve never heard of the book until now but I’m already excited!Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  34. Savannah Valdez

    Well, there are a lot of things that I wish I could take back. Those ,”What have I done” moments really brought some revelation to me so I change my ways. Let’s just say that I hurt people are round me and worse hurt myself. I did go to a good christian counseling group that help me back on my feet.

    • K.

      Oh, I’m really glad that things have or are working out for you. I always find so courageous when people accept difficult things about themselves and do something about it. Thank you for sharing, Savannah.

  35. Jenn

    I love when a book surprises you. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to check this one out myself. (I couldn’t finish Saving June) but am super intrigued by your review.

  36. Shelver506

    Something I’ve regretted… I can’t think of anything major, except for the normal moments when I say something stupid or socially awkward and then squirm when thinking about it for the next year or so.

  37. readingdate

    I did love Saving June, but was still totally impressed with how the writing evolved with Speechless. This author is now auto-buy for me and I’m glad you enjoyed it too. Lovely review.

  38. Sheryl

    I can’t really think of anything I’ve done that I’ve regretted. But I am looking forward to reading this book because it’s by the same author who write Saving June.

  39. Sheryl

    I can’t really think of anything I’ve done that I’ve regretted. But I am looking forward to reading this book because it’s by the same author who write Saving June.

  40. Sam

    Beautiful review, K! I’m glad you read this even though you weren’t planning on it. ;) The more I think about it, the more I realise that enjoyed this more than Saving June, though I did like them both a lot. Your points on Chelsea are brilliant! I completely agree with your review. :)

  41. Amy

    I have been seeing such great reviews for this book. I am glad that you really enjoyed it. I eventually want to get to it. Awesome review!!

  42. Kelly

    This was actually my first Harrington read, and I’ve heard many people complain that it “was no Saving June, but still really good”. It’s nice to hear the flip side! I try to live without regret, but I was most definitely not the nicest girl in high school – I’d like to go back and give my younger self a kick in the ass, so she would stand up for those being bullied instead of watching from the sidelines, thinking like Chelsea, that if I didn’t participate I was doing no wrong.

  43. Vivien

    I really enjoyed Saving June!!! Enough that I knew I wanted to read this book solely based on who wrote it. Definitely wanted to read more from this author. This one sounds like one I’d really enjoy!

  44. Beverley

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this despite not enjoying Harrington’s previous book. Isn’t it great when you notice a difference in the author’s writing?

    I really like the sound of Chelsea, with her ferocity and snarkiness! Can’t wait to meet her :)

    Fab review, K!

  45. Keertana

    Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, K.! I loved it and the fact that you were pleasantly surprised by this just made my day! :D Wonderful review, dear!(:

  46. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    I definitely have regrets, mostly not speaking up to defend others. I did it a lot, but not enough.

    Speechless sounds like an amazing book and I’m so happy you were surprised. Beautiful review!

  47. Nina

    Def. wanting to read this book, because it sounds super good. I haven’t read Saving June and I think I never heard of it. I probably live under a rock, lol, but I def. think this book is going to be a great introduction to Hannah Harringtons writing.

  48. Willinda

    I am trying to not regret things, even when they are really bad, but they had already happend and I can´t change it.

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    -Hana Trskova

  49. Sandra

    I, for one, thought Saving June was pretty good so I wouldn’t hesitate to read more by Harrington, including Speechless. It just sounds so good. For some reason I’m thinking the lack of a splashy cover means the contents will be fantastic.

  50. dragongirl

    I’ve never read any books by this author, but I’m really excited about reading this because the premise sounds interesting and I’ve heard many great things about it. :)

    • K.

      Agh! I know, Wendy! But I really didn’t. This surprised me so much, though. And I’m now definitely going to be picking up her next book :)

  51. Sarahbotbonkers

    This is one of the best novel I’ve read this year. Chelsea’s growth as a character was amazing and the message of this book was without a doubt very important and meaningful. Lovely review, K! I’m so glad you read and really liked this one. :D

  52. Adriane

    I’m excited to read this book because I’m amazed at someone who can correct themselves like that. Who can take such a mistake and turn it around like that. I’m intersted to see how it results.

  53. Kaethe

    I think we’ve all been book snobs at one time or another. I put off reading True Grit for ten years, because I didn’t like westerns. But isn’t it lovely when you try a book and it isn’t bad at all, in fact, it’s really good? And also, I really love reading an author who becomes stronger with each published book.

  54. anateasbookshelf

    Unlike you, I loved Saving June, so I can’t wait to read Speechless. I’m glad do hear you liked it, because that probably means it’s even better than Saving June.

  55. Meagan

    I didn’t like Saving June as much as some of my friends did, but I love seeing the growth from a book debut to a second novel. I feel like it tells you so much about where they’re going to go, and that’s why I want to read Speechless.

  56. slayra

    I am excited to read this book because I have read “Speak” recently and I heard it’s the same type of story! I really liked Speak. :)