First it was SLUT scribbled all over the school's lockers. But one week after Lizzie Hart takes her own life, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it--in Lizzie's own looping scrawl. Photocopies of her diary show up in the hands of her classmates. And her best friend, Angie, is enraged.
Angie had stopped talking to Lizzie on prom night, when she caught Lizzie in bed with her boyfriend. Too heartbroken to let Lizzie explain the hookup or to intervene when Lizzie gets branded Queen of the Sluts and is cruelly bullied by her classmates, Angie left her best friend to the mercy of the school, with tragic results.
But with this new slur, Angie's guilt transforms into anger that someone is still targeting Lizzie even after her death. Using clues from Lizzie's diary and aided by the magnetic, mysterious Jesse, Angie begins relentlessly investigating who, exactly, made Lizzie feel life was no longer worth living. And while she might claim she simply wants to punish Lizzie's tormentors, her anguish over abandoning and then losing her best friend drives Angie deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High--and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie's quest for the truth behind Lizzie's suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for--even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.
First of, the main character, Angie is one heck of a girl! She caught her best friend sleeping with her boyfriend on prom night and turned her back on both of them. She doesn't seem great? Bear with me. I'll get to the good part. While Angie's ex didn't get much heat, her best friend Lizzie was bullied on every turn. Lizzie was branded a slut while she was a good and gentle girl her whole life.
Bullying is not cool people! It sucks! It makes the victims feel worthless and some of them, like Lizzie find the only way out in suicide. Sure, there are those who triumph but not everyone can resist attacks from every side. Even though Angie didn't bully Lizzie she still felt responsible. And I would like to give props to the author for writing such a strong and persistent leading lady. Most of the MCs in books about bullying are wimps but in the end they pull through while Angie wouldn't back out and fought to discover what really happened to Lizzie. She was a fighter and even though she wasn't ready to forgive her best friend right away, or while she was still alive, her strength was inspiring and made me like this book even more.
I don't get why does this book has such a low rating on Goodreads. 3.38 to be exact. It's embarrassing and preposterous. I've read so many lousy books and this doesn't come close to being one of them.
I would recommend The S-Word to those who are looking for a contemporary novel which deals with not only bullying but also about forgiveness, strength and letting others see who you really are
I had an awful lot of affection and empathy for both Lizzie and Angie and their stories, which are really just two parts of the same story, pierced me to the heart. So much love, so much history, so much pain, , so much regret. In the final analysis, that little thing was not so little after all and it is at the center of at least one truth that could not be revealed lest it lead to disaster. How sad is it that not revealing it led to disaster anyway? In a powerful tale of heartbreak, it’s easy to understand Angie’s anguish about her best friend’s death and about the part she played in Lizzie’s decision.
Besides the two major players, I also really liked Jesse and, surprisingly, Kennedy. I do have to say, though, that I was a little put off by the rampant sex and alcohol. I’m not blind to teen behavior but this seemed a tad overboard, at least in the complete obliviousness of all the adults. Surely today’s parents and teachers are not all so divorced from reality and willing to abdicate their duty to look after the kids, at least not most of the ones I know.
Chelsea Pitcher is a good writer and there is very little about this book that I see in a negative light. I do wish some of the secondary characters had been a little more developed—I would have loved to know Kennedy better—and I found Angie to be a bit too devious and single-minded, not to mention being kind of a ridiculous “investigator”. Still, I believe the sleuthing activity was intended by the author to lighten the mood just a little and it was, in truth, a welcome distraction from the sadness. This is a worthwhile entry in the class of books about teen bullying and suicide and I’ll look forward to reading more by this author.
With the amount of novels that include some version of slut-shaming, whereby females are made to feel ashamed by exploring their sexuality for having any kind of sexual experience outside of what’s deemed to be an appropriate female encounter, I was really interested to see how The S-Word reversed that mentality by uncovering the truth behind Lizzie’s betrayal. Having been deemed a “slut” for sleeping with her best friends’ boyfriend, Lizzie was systematically dehumanized by her peers and eventually defined by who she had been (rumoured-to-be) intimate with, making her peers feel like they could treat her as something less than human. The reason I think The S-Word struggled to accomplish this reversal of Lizzie’s dehumanization by leaking out the truth using pages of her diary as clues, was, in part, thanks to it’s disjointed dialogue. Sentences were often poorly constructed, interrupting the flow of the story. At times, it read like a stereotypical portrayal of teen speak, while at other times, it read like a scholarly journal on gender issues and female sexuality. I was constantly being told, by Angie, how something was unfair or biased against women, in a way that made it feel like the author was merely using The S-Word as her soapbox to express her commentary on the issues at hand. While I wouldn’t necessarily use the word preachy, it definitely walked that line.
This telling versus showing style of writing is not one I overly enjoy, nor do I find it successful at demonstrating the issues in a clear and authentic light. But what further complicated The S-Word’s style was Angie’s detachedness as a narrator. For someone who has just lost her childhood best friend, to a suicide she is feeling more and more guilty about, after the deepest kind of betrayal one can experience from a best friend, I expected Angie to be a dynamic character who showed us the full range of grief, anger and despair. Instead, she was cold and calculating. Had she shown growth as a character, and moved past the detached numb stage, I could have understood her a bit better. Instead, her narration read merely as someone interested in solving a mystery, which took away from the overall impact of The S-Word’s story. This cold detachedness is also the reason I found myself surprised when she confessed to having feelings for a certain boy, who, even now, remains an enigma to me. The way in which she let the reader know that she had developed romantic feelings was much like the way in which someone might comment on the weather: in passing, without much fanfare. It was quite strange, further adding to the distance I felt between Angie and her story.
However, I did find myself truly enjoy The S-Word’s plot. It read as a fantastic mystery novel, with decent pacing and slowly leaked clues that kept me gripped to the pages. While I did guess at one of the plot twists, much of what happened, especially towards the ending, was a welcome surprise. And while I found myself distanced from Angie, I also found that much of what she was preaching saying, still resonated with me as a reader.
"I actually kind of wish they would stop. Even whispered quietly, that word has the power to turn your stomach. But maybe that’s why it’s important to say it out loud. Maybe we can’t be afraid of talking about it if we ever want it to stop."
I appreciated her honesty, if nothing else, and that was always something you could count to be told rather bluntly.
"His arms go around me in that soft way of theirs, but they’re not wings this time. They’re just arms. He’s just a boy. And love isn’t the answer to all my problems because this isn’t a fucking fairy tale."
And while I didn’t always connect with her on an emotional level, a part of me did feel the pain of her boyfriends’ betrayal when she was able to show moments of weakness.
"You don’t fall out of love with someone just because he betrays you. That love stays inside you, battling against the hate. Right now my love is battling my hate so hard I can barely breathe, and all I want to do is get away from him.
Or fall into him."
While I won’t argue that the execution wasn’t flawed, I will argue that many of Angie’s messages are ones that YA needs to focus on: words are powerful and should be treated as such; sexuality is fluid and can’t be contained by generic labels; hate breeds hate; and so on.
If you haven’t already figured it out, The S-Word was quite a confusingly enjoyable read. On the one hand, the plot pulled me long relentlessly, and I got so caught up in the mystery elements that most of the issues I’ve mentioned, fell to the wayside. On the other, when I was pulled out of the suspenseful plot, I was quickly reminded of how many issues The S-Word had, and how miserably it was failing at overcoming them. Like I said, The S-Word won’t be for every reader, but I do think that there will be a niche group of readers who adore it for what it does succeed at.
The writing style was terrible. Every other word was hard to follow. Most of the book was about the description about the people in the book. There was no set up for the actual story. It was like the story line was what was at the back of the author's mind and the characters were what was most important. By page 40 something, I was still lost, but knew almost all the cheerleaders and whether or not they started writing the words on the lockers again. This is especially a problem when you're describing the characters like "She had the kind of ass they rap about." and "Rumor has it they mix love spells into their lip balm." Just from those entries you may think its funny, but surrounding the rest of the words in the book, I thought it was stupid.
This synopsis stopped me in my tracks when I read it on NetGalley and I just knew it was going to be good. Unfortunately I couldn't get past the writing style to find out.
Wellllll.... It had promise. But this was no Thirteen Reasons Why. In fact, it's pretty hard to read something on this subject without making that comparison. the s-word was okay, but it did not steal my breath and leave me speechless like Thirteen Reasons Why.
I think it would be fair for me to say had I read the s-word before Jay Asher's book, I probably would have liked it more. There were several things that kind of irked me in this book and I think they took away from the overall impact the story could have had.
First, the lack of capital letters. Man, that drove me nuts. Something inside of my cringes when I see 'i' instead of "I" in a book/sentence/essay. I'm sure there was some purpose for the lack of capitalization of proper nouns in this book, but I really didn't "get it". Whatever the impact was supposed to be fell short. Maybe it was supposed to emphasize the state-of-mind of the character(s)? Eh. I don't really know. Needlesstosay, there should have been proper capitalization in this book. Period. (And I won't even mention that the lack of capitalization wasn't even consistent. Some sentences started correctly, others did not. Names were capitalized but 'I' was not. It drove me nuts!)
The characters were also just so-so. I think Lizzie was the most interesting of them all, and she wasn't in the majority of the action. Angie was a nut case. Jesse had promise, and everyone else was taking up space. There wasn't a whole lot of depth with some of the so-called "main" characters, and a lot of their interactions/relationships were rushed and felt a little off.
I will say the story behind Lizzie was intriguing and heart breaking. Now, her sad story I could believe. It actually felt real (which is tragic).
Overall, the s-word was a decent read that had some gripping moments, but the relationships with the characters fell flat.