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Heartless Lyn @ Great Imaginations

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost"

Speechless - Hannah Harrington This review is also Fun, touching, and true to life, Speechless tackles and succeeds as addressing a variety of currently trends that plague our society. This book could not have come to me at a better time. Speechless has a number of important factors, each receiving an appropriate level of critique and care. First, the bullying mob in the fiction hits close to home as I watch some of my own book blogging friends deal with the aftermath of a group of slandering individuals attempt to wreak havoc in their lives. These individuals have spoken against the unfair treatment of other book lovers, and they have paid a high price for their courage. In Speechless, Chelsea battles a similar battle. The teenage girl haphazardly shares a secret about a classmate, which then launches the entire plot of the book. However, she also comes forward and confesses to the police when an act of violence results from her actions. She suffers the consequences and faces an ongoing battle at her school, not because of her betrayal of the brutalized victim. When two of the popular jocks are taken into custody, resulting in Chelsea becoming a target for vandalism, threats and minor physical assault. Because she decided to do the right thing, she pays with her personal safety. Second, this book has a very solid pro - homosexual aspect. This issue is a hotbed currently in the news, with the owner of a fast food chain, Chik-fil-a, condemning gay marriage. I won't bring in my own political beliefs (Oh, who am I kidding - I'll never set foot inside another one of their franchises EVER again), but we cannot deny that this issue is becoming an all out war. The book handles a gay relationship with care and tenderness, even in the face of a hate crime. The ending of the book is will make you want to laugh and cry all at once. I had a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling during the last 15% of the story. WARNING: You're going to need some tissues. Finally, the plastic nature of popularity rears its ugly head as well in Harrington's novel. Chelsea falls from grace with the majority of the school as the result of her actions. Over time, Chelsea understands that her friendship with her old cliche was less than fulfilling. She overhauls her wardrobe (she hates the color pink), she delves into art and her former clothing projects, and she builds meaningful relationships with the people who accept her for who she is, not who they push her to be. She even realizes that the side effect of her former friendship not only caused her to be forced into a mold, but she also projected the same expectations on to others. Formerly, Chelsea expected others to conform to her expectations. I also applaud the author for adding that the male population can be just as cruel as the females. Typically, the popular boys are utilized as props or prizes for the female mean girls when popularity comes into the mix, but Hannington doesn't let the boys off that easily in the book. The guys hand out the same level of bitter bullying tactics as well. Don't get me wrong, girls can be poisonous. But boys can be just as petty and passive aggressive as girls. I am glad to see an author step up and point out that both genders can be spiteful and mean as well. Chelsea's character doesn't follow the formula here. She loves celebrity gossip, she adores makeup over math, and she is a sucker for fashion. She has a change of heart, but she does not shed her Gossip Girl core in favor for the inner geek. I did not have much in common with Chelsea outside her hair color (redheads are the BEST!), but I did like that she was a teenage girl with teenage interests. I enjoyed the fact that I could bond with her, even though she and I are two very different people. Yes, girls who enjoy sports, books and intellectual stimulation have a right to the teenage persona, but not all girls in the non-popular field are going to be book toting video game nerds. Even I enjoy a nice dosage of celebrity blogs and I can spend money at Sephora like I am made of it. Bottom line is: I liked that this character for who she is, and that she was comfortable with being the girl who knew post-Oprah Tom Cruise.This novel is such a beautiful tale about everything that is wrong with our teenagers. False flattery, intolerance, sacrificing the self in order to curry favor, and the stigma of popularity and happiness is stifling for young adults. I can recall high school: it was not the "best of times". The problems I read in the book were no different than the problems from my high school years. Cell phones, and electronic communication adds an extra dash of pressure into the whole stew as well. Mechanically, I must confess I am torn about my final decision. Hannington develops Chelsea's voice as she slowly starts to change internally, and I could see a stark difference between the writing style as our main character began to develop. However, I did find that some of the flow was choppy, and that the novel, at times, seemed to be rushed and spotty. Story-wise, I found this the perfect blend of morality, romance, and civic rights. I found it pleasantly ironic that a story about a former popular white teenager becoming the platform for pro-gay rights and civil rights. Overall, I found the story delightful and not overbearing for the basic message that what you say can hurt others around you. I will wrap with up with one of my favorite quotes: (and there are A LOT of highlight-worthy trinkets in the book) I can't change what I've done and what I haven't done, but I can change what I do now.