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Wash Your Mouth Out With Silence

In which our heroine, Chelsea Knot, literally shuts the hell up.

Wash Your Mouth Out With Silence

BOOK REPORT for Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Cover Story: Appropriate (For Once) Big Face
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Non-After School Special, The Max
Relationship Status: Gay-Straight Alliance Co-Leaders

Cover Story: Appropriate (For Once) Big Face

Since I read an ARC with a plain white cover, I was secretly hoping that the actual cover would be super heinous so I could make a lot of bad jokes about the artwork leaving me "speechless." (GET IT?) But lucky for y'all, this cover is actually related to the book, which saves you from my terrible sense of humor. Sure, it's a big face, but it really looks like Chelsea, the main character, and the duct tape superimposed over her mouth effectively indicates her silence (rather than making her look like a kidnap victim.) I can't believe I'm saying this BUT I actually support the use of Big Face for this book. Did that leave you guys speechless or WHAT?

The Deal:

Chelsea Knot is what scientists refer to as a Chatty Cathy. Girlfriend CANNOT keep her mouth shut, especially when it comes to school gossip. Getting the scoop on her fellow classmates is her main source of power, although the foundation of her popularity lies firmly on the shoulders of Kristen Courteau, Queen Bee and Regina George wannabe. In fact, Chelsea is a lot like Gretchen Weiners, in that HER HAIR IS FULL OF SECRETS. (Her father, however, did not invent Toaster Strudel.) But when she exposes the homosexual orientation of fellow student Noah Beckett, who promptly gets beat into a coma by two neanderthal basketball players, Chelsea finally realizes just how dangerous words can be. After she reports Noah's attackers to the police, she takes a vow of silence and refuses to speak. Even after her teachers and parents protest, and, even worse, after her so-called friends begin to harrass and bully her in the hallways, Chelsea maintains her vow. But as she slowly gets to know Noah's friends, particularly his adorkable bestie Sam, will Chelsea find the words and the will to truly say she's sorry?

BFF Charm: Yay!

Ok, I take back what I said about Chelsea being like Gretchen Weiners. Girlfriend is actually a MUCH better person than Gretchen, and although she starts off as a mindless minion of Kristen, Chelsea soon learns how to be her own independent person. It's tough to go against the flow in high school, especially when you've felt the heady height of the top of the food chain, but Chelsea's nose dive to the social gutter forces her to examine her priorities. It was inspiring to watch her begin to make the right choices, and I was relieved that her evolution into being a better person didn't come at the expense of her snarky attitude. She's funny, she's brave, and I commend her with a thousand fist pumps. (And a champ can toast. Obviously.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

I can't BELIEVE it took Chelsea so long to realize that Sam is a MAJOR CATCH. She's lucky I wasn't actually in the book, because I totally would've stolen his cute ass out from under her. He's thoughtful and smart and wears glasses and, most importantly, he can cook DELICIOUS FOOD. (Honestly, that's just as important as having nice abs.) The chemistry simmers between them at a nice slow burn, and while I wish there had been a bit more of the kissage, I enjoyed the sweet tingly moments between them. And also the time he made her a tuna melt with AVOCADO. SA-WOON.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

I really dig Hannah Harrington's style. As a huge fan of contemporary YA, I feel like Harrington really captured an authentic teenage experience through Chelsea's perspective. Her voice is legit, and while she doesn't quite reach the echelon of Jessica Darling (who could?!), she sounds and feels like a teen without swimming in slang. My only issue with the writing is that Chelsea's character development happened a little too quickly. She went from being pathetic and superficial to pensive and sensible like, 0 to 60 seconds. I realize that she was never a bad person, but I wish her transformation had been more nuanced and consequently more compelling.

Bonus Factors: Diversity

In addition to Noah and his boyfriend, Andy, this book features Asha, a tiny Indian girl who happens to be a champion knitter. (LOVE YOU, ASHA! Now please knit me a scarf.) Diversity is wonderfully woven into the book without ever getting heavy-handed. (More on that below.)

Bonus Factor: Non-After School Special

The premise of this book might sound cringe-worthy in a "Let's Learn A Valuable Lesson About Respecting Our Differences" kinda way, but thanks to Harrington's careful steering, the story never veers into after school special territory. It's real and honest and totally refreshing.

Bonus Factor: The Max

Once Chelsea starts hanging out with Asha, she spends a lot of time at Rosie's Diner, where Sam and Andy work. It's basically my dream high school hang out-- there's plenty of deliciously greasy food and enough variety in customers to keep the people-watching entertaining.

Casting Call:

Sophie Turner as Chelsea

Josh Peck as Sam

I just saw Josh in Red Dawn, and while the movie was terrible (and not in a fun way), Josh was super cute.

Relationship Status: Gay-Straight Alliance Co-Leaders

This book means serious business when it comes to teaching people right from wrong, but the good news is that it's also a blast to hang out with. It knows how to keep it real while also keeping it fun. While we probably won't ever be BFFs, I'm proud to stand by this book and work together to make the world a more tolerant, respectful place. Also, I really hope it will bring the snacks for our next meeting because TUNA MELT GET IN MY BELLAH.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Big Honcho Media. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Speechless is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).