Speechless by Hannah Harrington: A Book Review and Author Interview

Speechless by Hannah Harrington: A Book Review and Author Interview

Olivia Kalb, Staff Writer

You know that really annoying person who can’t keep a secret to save her life? You ever want her to just shut up?

In Speechless that wonderful event finally occurs when Chelsea Knot, the all-time gossiper, shuts her mouth entirely after she spills a big secret. As punishment for the harm she caused someone she forces herself to take a vow of silence, which isn’t easy for anyone, let alone a girl in need of approval.

In the beginning of the book, Chelsea’s character isn’t all that likeable. She was weak and shallow, allowing her homophobic “friends” to bully kids though she silently disapproved.

However, after all those “friends” turn on her for revealing to the police who perpetuated a hate crime, she finally finds her strength.

During her month of silence, she begins growing up and actually stands up for herself and others—all the while maintaining her vow of silence, a rather impressive feat coming from the once weak-hearted Chelsea.

While at times the story got a tad preachy about bullying and homosexuality, her new friends, romance, and job at Rosie’s Diner keeps the story full of life and laughter.

Rosie’s Diner is probably my favorite part of the book. It’s where all the misfit students work. You know the ones, they stand to the side, usually going unnoticed, but oftentimes being the most fun and unique people. You’re definitely going to wish Westport had a place like Rosie’s once you finish reading Speechless.

 

The author of this unique story, Hannah Harrington, very kindly agreed to an email interview.

Let’s start off with 3 fun facts about yourself.
I’m left-handed, I know all of the lyrics to “American Pie” by Don McLean, and I want to be Amy Poehler when I grow up.
As a teen were you more like Chelsea was in the beginning – more focused on status – or like her at the end – true to your beliefs.

Chelsea and I are completely different, aside from the curly hair! I was nothing like her in high school. I had plenty of friends, but popularity and status weren’t concerns of mine. I like to believe I stayed true to myself and tried not to worry so much about fitting in and conforming.

What do you think it is about being a teenager that creates such pressure on social status?

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked. I think high school can feel like its own little world, and it’s very easy to lose perspective of everything outside of it while you’re going through it, which leads people to exaggerating the importance of everything that happens during that time. There’s also the cultural pressure, especially for girls, telling you the right way to look and act– it’s very easy to buy into that.

How was it writing about Rosie’s? I absolutely LOVED reading about the diner. I wish it existed because I want to go so badly now.

Those were my favorite scenes to write! I liked that the diner was a bit of an oasis for the outcasts, and it was a blast writing the group scenes with these eccentric characters and having them play off of each other. For me, friendship is just as fun and interesting to write about as romance is. I think everyone wishes they had a place like Rosie’s in their lives.

How did you decide who Chelsea spoke to first after her pledge of silence? It wasn’t at all who I expected, but I feel that made the moment better.

I knew that the expected outcome would be to have Chelsea’s first words be to Noah, and I wanted to avoid being predictable. Deciding how she would break her vow was tough; in the early draft of the novel, it played out differently, but I really liked the idea of Chelsea coming full circle. She takes the vow after being so passive, and when she finds her voice again, it’s her actively taking a stand. I also liked that in the end, it was a very selfless act. If she’d spoken just to ask for forgiveness, it would’ve become a moment about her, and instead I wrote it to show her growth, and to illustrate how her words can have the power to help instead of hurt.

What do you have coming next?

I am working on a third novel, but it is still in the early stages. All I can say is that it is another contemporary romance!

 

Paperback

288 pages

$9.99

E-Book $8.39

Published August 2012

HarlequinTeen