Friday, September 28, 2012
Source: Received an e-ARC via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I had somehow originally confused this author with someone else and had avoided the book because I didn't like that author. Then I started seeing reviews for this book, which reminded me that actually I did like Hannah Harrington's debut Saving June, a standout in the dead sister subgenre as far as I'm concerned. So what's this one about?
1. Chelsea is a blabbermouth, the class gossip, and lackey/bff to most popular girl Kristen.
2. Chelsea sees a male classmate making out with another guy and blurts this news out while drunk at a New Year's Eve party.
3. Kristen's meathead jock boyfriend and friend beat up said gay guy in a parking lot.
4. Chelsea tells the police about their intentions.
5. Chelsea is ostracized at school for hurting their athletic chances and for upsetting Kristen and in response decides to take a vow of silence.
I think the vow of silence idea is so cool! First it makes me think of the Day of Silence, designed to bring attention to the literal silencing of LGBT people. Second I love the idea of this girl who is so careless with her words, starting to pay attention. Once something is out there, it can't be taken back. We need to value our words and be more aware of how they affect people (I think I might be preaching to the choir a little bit here as we're all readers and a lot are also writers-we care about words and their meanings). And third I love that this was inspired by a National Geographic article Chelsea read about a Buddhist monk's vow of silence. Although Chelsea does not manage to go for years without speaking, the time that she does spend allows her some serious time for reflection while also making new friends who actually care about her and aren't judgmental controllers.
Unlike some reviewers, I liked Chelsea from the beginning. I strongly sensed that she had a good heart even her actions didn't always line up and I'm also predisposed to like the narrator as long as she isn't whiny or annoying and I would not classify Chelsea as either of those things. She's just young and maybe hasn't experienced many negative repercussions up until this point in time. Despite Chelsea's vow of silence, because she narrates, we still get a lot of funny moments as well as deep insight into how Chelsea is coping.
As for her supporting cast, I loved them a lot too, especially sweet Asha, the first person to reach out to Chelsea and the one who welcomes her to a new crew including cutie-pie Sam. I mostly liked the way their relationship developed but an incident at the end had me bump my rating down half a star (I didn't think it was very respectful to her parents).
Overall: A must-read for lovers of contemporary especially if you don't usually read "issue" books. Although talking about some important things, this book seamlessly weaves them in without coming across as preachy. There are also a lot of fun moments and the writing is flawless so you should be able to lose yourself pretty easily in the narrative.
Cover: Love it! The white is a big risk but its plainness helps set it apart while also staying true to teh story.