4.2 44
by Hannah Harrington

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Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's

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Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way. People she never noticed before. A boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Among the many books about bullies, Harrington’s stands out for its authentic voice and unflinching portrayal of what it means to be part of the bullying. Sixteen-year-old Chelsea relishes her in-crowd status, gained through her friendship with popular Kristen and cemented by her penchant for passing along gossip. But after Chelsea drunkenly outs her classmate Noah at a party, he is brutally beaten by two jocks, one of whom is Kristen’s boyfriend. Despite promising Kristen otherwise, Chelsea tells the police what happened. As Chelsea’s social life implodes, and she herself is bullied, she takes a vow of silence, communicating her thoughts via a small whiteboard. The vow, along with new friendships and a budding romance with Noah’s best friend, change and deepen Chelsea, who learns about the power of love over hate, real friendship, and being true to oneself. In Chelsea, Harrington (Saving June) has created a powerful, strong-willed character, portraying her with true-to-life complexity. Even at her most unlikable, Chelsea never ceases to be fascinating. Ages 14–up. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Sept.)
VOYA - Sherri Rampey
Can you keep a secret? How long can you stay silent? For Chelsea Knot, her heavy gossip has come at a terrible price, and now she has taken a vow of silence. Through her silence, she has learned to become the person that she should have been all along, instead of living in the shadow of someone else. At first, Chelsea is just one of those characters you want to strangle, always a busy-body. Then, Chelsea accidentally sees something she should not have seen at a party. Because of her inability to keep her mouth shut, Chelsea's gossip has almost gotten a fellow classmate killed. Chelsea's guilty conscious forces her to do the right thing (for once). Harrington steps up to the plate and does a great job of developing Chelsea's character. Chelsea progresses from participant to observer, friend to foe, and antagonist to protagonist. The reader will urge Chelsea to keep up her vow even in the midst of trouble. The secondary characters add depth and feeling to the plot development, even when all is not forgiven. While this book will be sure to fly off the shelves, do not be surprised if the teens get confused by the mediums Chelsea uses to communicate to other characters in the book. The cover, although a bit bland, seems to be a pun for the title, because it will leave your teens "speechless." Overall, this is a great read, especially for teens who like "mean girl" stories. Reviewer: Sherri Rampey
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret. She tells all and makes many enemies along the way. Nothing seems to stop her from blabbing until Noah, a gay teen, is beaten to the point of hospitalization after she reveals that she saw him hooking up with another guy at a party. Upon learning about the trouble that she has caused, the teen decides to take a vow of silence like a monk she reads about in a National Geographic article. "What comes out of my mouth is the root of my problems, so the solution is for nothing to come out." During this time, Chelsea is abandoned by her former best friend and bullied with name-calling, locker trashing, and other forms of harassment. She sticks to her guns, however, and remains mute. Readers will wonder what will finally break her silence as the drama surrounding Noah's beating unfolds. The book could stand on this premise alone, but Harrington has chosen to throw in a bit of romance between Chelsea and Noah's best friend, Sam. Chelsea grows as a person, making new friends, learning to bite her tongue and developing a stronger sense of self. However, some readers might feel that her vow of silence draws too much attention away from Noah, especially those who sympathize with him. This book is part of the Love Is Louder movement whose mission is to help those who are mistreated and misunderstood. Readers might see Noah as misunderstood, but maybe not Chelsea.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
Kirkus Reviews
An absorbing drama about what happens when one of the popular girls becomes the target of her former friends' bullying. Sixteen-year-old Chelsea is second in command to her school's queen bee, Kristen, following her smug best friend in all things. Chelsea lies to her parents to attend Kristen's secret New Year's party. There, Chelsea gets drunk and walks in on two gay boys, then stumbles downstairs and outs them. Kristen's boyfriend and another boy brag that they'll beat them up; later, they do, landing one in the hospital. Ashamed, Chelsea turns them in, but her former friends shun and attack her. In response, she vows not to speak at all. Thereafter she makes some unexpected friends and changes her entire outlook. Harrington draws a convincing portrait of the nastiness involved in the personal attacks against Chelsea, especially as the girl realizes how cruel she has been to others in the past. Although Chelsea's nearly complete change of character might seem too sudden, the author makes it look plausible by writing from Chelsea's point of view and underscoring her reactions to her changed circumstances. Characters stand out quite well as individuals, especially confident Asha, the freshman girl who befriends Chelsea. The story works well as an argument against bullying that reaches young readers in their own world. Timely and affecting. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

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Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Keeping secrets isn't my specialty. It never has been, ever since kindergarten when I found out Becky Swanson had a crush on Tommy Barnes, and I managed to circulate that fact to the entire class, including Tommy himself, within our fifteen minute recess—a pretty impressive feat, in retrospect. That was ten years ago, and it still may hold the record for my personal best.

The secret I have right now is so, so much juicier than that. I'm just about ready to burst at the seams.

"Will you stop the teasing already?" Kristen says. We're in her bedroom where I'm helping her decide on an outfit for tonight—a drawn-out process when your wardrobe is as massive as hers. "It's annoying. Just tell me."

Kristen is not a patient person. I realize I've been pushing it by alluding to my newfound information over the past twenty minutes without actually divulging anything. Of course I'm going to tell her; she's my best friend, and I can't keep it to myself much longer without truly pissing her off. A pissed-off Kristen is not a fun Kristen. Still, it's rare for me to have the upper hand with her, so I can't help but hold it over her head just a little.

"I don't know," I say innocently. "I'm not sure you can handle it…"

She turns around from where she's digging through her closet and chucks a black leather sandal at me. I shield my face with both hands, laughing as the shoe bounces off one arm and onto the mattress. Kristen props a hand on her narrow hip and cocks her head at me, her glossy, shoulder-length blond hair swaying with the motion.

"You're building this up way too much," she says. She yanks out a shimmery red top from her closet before facing me again. "I bet whatever it is, it's completely lame."

"Well, in that case, I'll keep it to myself." When she glares at me, I just smile in return and say, "Don't wear that. That baby-doll cut looks like something out of the maternity section."

She hangs the top back up and comes over to the bed, flopping down on her stomach next to me. "Spill," she whines, the previous iciness dissolving into borderline desperation. This is as close as Kristen ever gets to groveling. "Otherwise I'm uninviting you from the party."

The threat can't be real—Kristen knows I've been looking forward to her New Year's Eve party for over a month now. She even helped concoct the cover story necessary to convince my mother to let me come over to her house despite the grounding I received after my parents saw my latest report card. Like I'm ever going to need geometry in real life anyway.

Even though Kristen can be…touchy, she wouldn't uninvite me from the party over something like this—but I decide it's better to cave already than to test her on it.

"Okay, okay," I relent. "I'll tell you."

She breaks into a grin and scoots closer to me. I like having her attention like this; Kristen is easily bored, so when I do get her full focus, it makes me feel like I'm doing something right. She is, after all, one of—if not the—most popular girls in the sophomore class, if you keep track of that sort of thing, which I do. She's used to people fawning all over her to get on her good side. I've been on her good side for almost two years now, and I intend to stay there. I'd better make this good.

"So I met up with Megan today because she wanted me to help her pick out new shoes, right?" I start. "She also wanted to bitch to me about Owen, because he totally blew her off last weekend and they've been fighting a lot, and she's wondering if she should break up with him."

Kristen's mouth tugs into a frown. "Um, yawn. I already know this."

"I'm not done yet," I assure her. "Anyway, so Megan brings along Tessa Schauer, which…whatever. She's annoying, but I can deal. We shop for a while and everything's fine, and then I remember I need to call my mom about picking stuff up from the dry cleaners, except I'm an idiot who didn't charge my phone and the battery's dead. I ask Tessa if I can borrow hers since she's right there, and she hands it off and walks away. I call my mom, and then I'm about to give it back, but I decided to look through the pictures on the phone because I'm nosy like that, and…" I pause for a moment, just to draw out the anticipation.

"And…?" Kristen prompts. She's totally hanging on to every word.

"And," I say, "the first one I see? It's of Tessa. With Owen. Looking very…shall we say…friendly."

Her eyes widen. "How friendly?" she asks.

I dig my phone out of my pocket and toss it at her. "Look for yourself."

I watch in amusement as she fumbles with my phone, scrolling through my text messages. "Shut up," she gasps, looking back up at me. "You forwarded the pictures to yourself?"


"Won't Tessa know?"

I'm a little insulted by the question, to be honest. Of course I thought ahead. I'm not an amateur. "I deleted the sent texts," I explain. "She'll have no idea."

"That is…" Kristen pauses, and then grins up at me. "Totally brilliant."

I take the phone back and look at the screen, where the high-angled self-portrait of Tessa and Owen midkiss stares back at me. So tacky. Not just the picture, or how Owen's mouth is open so wide I can actually see his tongue entering Tessa's mouth (gross, gross, gross), but making out with your alleged best friend's boyfriend behind her back? That's just classless. I would never in a million years hook up with Kristen's boyfriend, Warren Snyder, while she's dating him. Okay, I would never hook up with him, period, because he's a sleaze, but that's beside the point. The point is, some things are sacred.

"She's a shitty friend," I tell Kristen. "I can't believe she did that to Megan." There's no way Megan will forgive her when she finds out. She's dated Owen for over a year, and Tessa's been her best friend for longer than that. An entire friendship down the drain, all because Tessa couldn't keep her hands off Owen. No boy is worth that. Not even Bren-don Ryan, whom I would do a number of immoral and insane things for, and who is quite possibly the love of my life, even if he doesn't know it yet. We've been caught in a wildly passionate, completely one-sided affair since freshman year.

"Tessa Schauer is a slutty bitch. I hope Megan kicks her ass," Kristen says. "When are you going to tell her?"

"Tonight, probably." Megan and Tessa will both be at the party, so I'll have to find a way to corner Megan alone and break the news. Tessa will know it's me, even if I erased my tracks, but whatever. Who cares? Snooping on someone's phone is a far more minor offense than slutting around with your best friend's boyfriend. No one will have sympathy for her.

Kristen rolls off the bed and stands in front of her full-length mirror, fiddling with the ends of her perfect hair. "You know, you could have some fun with this," she muses.

I sit up. "How?"

"If you tell Tessa you know about her and Owen, I bet she'd do just about anything to keep you from sharing that with Megan."

"Like blackmail?" I frown. "I don't know…"

"I'm just saying," Kristen says, "I know for afact that she has a fake ID. She was attention-whoring like crazy, showing it off to everyone who would listen in Econ last week. Maybe you could convince her to hook up the two of us with our own."

Interesting idea. Except—

"What would we do with a fake ID?" I ask. Buying booze is the obvious answer, but while Kristen might pass for twenty-one with the right push-up bra and a pair of heels, there's no way I could. I am much less…developed than her.

"Well, I could go to Rave with Warren, for starters," she says. "You only have to be eighteen to get in."

Rave is this nightclub in Westfield, the next town over. Warren turned eighteen last month and went there to celebrate, and wouldn't shut up about it for two weeks. I have to admit, it would be interesting to see what all the fuss is about.

And if it's important to Kristen, then it's important to me.

"I'll see what I can do," I tell her, and by the way Kristen smiles at me, I know that was exactly what she wanted to hear.

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