Sunday, May 19, 2013

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Title: The S-Word
Editor: Chelsea Pitcher
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: May 7th 2013
Source: NetGalley & Gallery Books


Four and a half stars, rounded up.

After she was caught in a hotel room on prom night with her best friend's boyfriend, Lizzie is labelled as the school slut. The students taunt her, and her locker becomes riddled with that word, over and over again. Slut. Shortly after, Lizzie commits suicide. Her best friend, Angie, cannot let sleeping dogs lie and begins to dig into the secrets of the school's student body, unraveling them bit by bit in an attempt to find out what really led Lizzie to end her life, and who was behind it. But can Angie handle what secrets she uncovers, and more importantly, will she be able to tame the raging, vengeful curiosity that has begun to consume her?


Wow. I wasn't sure how I was going to enjoy this one, but it was a raw, emotional ride from start to finish. I give it 4.5/5 stars, rounded up.

+I really enjoyed the writing itself. It was gritty and honest, and not always pleasant, but portrayed a gorgeous portrait of the darker side of high school. I found the language to be modern without trying too hard to be young, which is an issue I have with a lot of other contemporary novels.

+I honestly had no idea what was going on- and I mean that in a good way. Though this book isn't a traditional "whodunnit", there is still a mystery taking place. Up until the end, I had no idea how it would end. I had theories and thought processes that rearranged several times throughout the course of the book, and I was still taken by surprise. That is a great trait in a book for me.

+I'm pretty sure a large reason as to why I... Enjoyed isn't the right word. Why I connected to this book is because I've witnessed it happen, to a lesser extent. A girl in my high school committed suicide after a trio of her friends took a rumor as true and turned it against her. After her death, the friends came undone and grieved in the same way some of the characters do in this story. Though there was far less drama and vengeance in my real-life witnessing, I couldn't help but to picture my acquaintance as Lizzie. This is a topic that needs to be expressed more in young adult literature. Suicide, and slut shaming and bullying, are so much more frequent with technology what it is, but the stories seemed to be glossed over. It happens every day, and stories like The S-Word remind us of that fact.

+ As a member of the LGBT community, I really appreciated some of the queer themes that appeared, if only briefly, in this book. This was another part of the book that made me connect more strongly, and made the book more "real."

-The only real issue that I had with this story was the amount of digging and spying and lying that Angie went through. I understand the guilt and grief that she felt, but it was downright psychotic at times and made it a bit uncomfortable to read. As a whole, these parts helped to shape the novel, but at times they seemed just a bit too much.

I recommend this book to any young adult, and to any fan of young adult literature or contemporary story. Be warned, this story contains very serious topics such as rape, self-harm, LGBT identity, suicide, and sexual abuse. This isn't a light-hearted read. If any of those topics bother you, than give this a pass. Everyone else: Give this book a shot.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for my ebook copy.