I started out not really liking Chelsea, but I think that was the whole point. It was so hard to watch her make such bad choices, but then completely redeem herself by making a very hard one... One that ended up alienating her from her friends, who then turn to bullying her. She decides to take a vow of silence that changes her so much. I can't imagine the resolve it would take to go as long as her without speaking. But she made such an impact on me that when my husband or kids would talk to me after I was reading, I would stare at them and think that I wasn't supposed to be talking. Then I would remember it is Chelsea and not me... I was that engrossed.
As for the secondary characters, there was the good and the evil, and both were done so well. Asha was so amazing. I loved her bubbliness and her willingness to befriend Chelsea. I loved watching their friendship grown and what Asha brought to the story.
I loved the tight knit bunch at Rosie's the local diner, and how that quickly became essential to Chelsea's life now that she was cast out of her circle of friends. The relationships with Sam and Andy the friends and boyfriend of Noah, the boy who was injured indirectly because of her but ultimately helped by Chelsea by her actions. I loved the interactions with Chelsea and Sam, and his bravery for opening himself up to her.
As far as Kristen, she is the it girl, and every bit what I couldn't stand yet somehow found myself envying in high school. Beauty, circle of friends, yet could and would turn on them in an instant. I never knew just how cruel it went though because there were moments when I thought I saw the glimmer of hope for growth in her, and then I wasn't sure if it was dashed the second that she opened her mouth.
This was a deep novel about speaking up for what's right, learning when to keep a secret, the power of friendship, bullying, self identity including being gay, and also featured involved parents and issues with the dad losing a job. Hannah Harrington weaved it all intricately, tactfully and powerfully into Speechless.
The moments where Chelsea had "aha" moments about herself, her actions and when she finally stood up for what ultimately got her into the mess were so powerful.
Bottom line: emotional story sprinkled with sarcasm, witty and light moments. Speechless has a touch of romance and characters that are dynamic and beautifully written.