Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 28th 2012
Rating: 4 or 4.5 stars
Funny story: I saw this on Edelweiss with a 'request' button. Since I've seen Looking for the Panacea raving over it, I immediately requested this. It was only after requesting that I noticed that this book was actually published in 2012. Oops. I didn't think about it again, until I got an email that said I was approved to read it. Talk about unexpected!
While this book isn't a new favorite of mine, it's most certainly good. Speechless tells the story of a girl falling from her social status, making new friends, falling in love, and, ultimately, growing up. This is very much a story of self-discovery and I thought that aspect of the book was handled particularly well. The gradual change in Chelsea is believable and honest. She slowly starts seeing that not everything was her fault, that she made some bad decisions and some good decisions, that she isn't a bad person. She really did grow up in the story, and it was convincing and beautifully described.
I hadn't expected the gay aspect of the story, but I loved the message Harrington sends out. This book is a little preachy, but it's a message I stand behind. Harrington shows different forms of hate against gay people, and she also shows that that kind of hate is completely unwarranted. She shows the reader that gay people really are just people too.
Then there's the romance. While it suffered a bit from my recent loss of the ability to ship people, it was a really good romance. Sam has got to be one of the sweetest characters I've ever read about. He truly cares about others and it just shines through. He and Chelsea were the perfect match and I normally would have shipped it like hell. The fact that I didn't really is a personal thing and most certainly isn't because of the book. In fact, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet and heartfelt romance!
I did have some minor issues with the book. Especially in the beginning, Chelsea slut-shames a lot. Every girl's outfit is critized for being too revealing and slutty. In fact, apparently every girl is basically a slut, except for Chelsea and her friend Kristen. Fortunately, the slut-shaming recedes after Chelsea is kicked out of the 'popular gang' and for most of the book doesn't exist anymore. But at the end of the book, a freshman's boobs are described quite extensively, paying no attention to the rest of her appearance. It's a shame that this happened, because all the slut-shaming really needn't be there.
Another tiny issue is the display of vegetarian food. Apparently, Chelsea's mother is really into organic/vegetarian food (which, by the way, aren't the same) and every night's dinner is basically described as 'tofu'. Now this is a personal pet peeve, but I'm getting so sick of the tofu-stereotype. I am not a vegetarian, but I eat vegetarian food regularly, and believe me, it does not consist of just tofu and salad. At all. There are so many great (vegetarian) recipes, and there are so many ways you can make it delicious. Some of my favorite recipes are vegetarian, and believe me, they're unbelievably tasty and plain great. It really was a minor thing, but I can get worked up over this because it's such a missed chance to show everyone that vegetarian food is so much more than tofu.
In all, this really was a good book. Speechless weaves many things, such as romance, life lessons and friends, into a beautiful coming-of-age story. I found this book inspiring and I hope you - whoever you are - will too, when you read it.
** Thank you, Harlequin Teen, for the review copy! No money or favors were exchanged to alter this review. **