Book Review: The S-Word

The S Word CoverBook: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Expected Publication For The S-Word is May 7, 2013 by Gallery Books|Pages: 322

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Goodreads|Chelsea Pitcher’s Website

A Note: The S-Word is an e-ARC from netgalley.com and it has not influenced my review in any way

Summary: First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep 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.

I went into The S-Word thinking I’d really like it- as much as one could like a book about someone dealing with their best friend’s suicide.  I found that it was hard to get into The S-Word.

It didn’t feel like Angie and Lizzie were best friends during the time leading up to Lizzie’s betrayal.  It felt more like Angie and Lizzie were best friends in elementary/middle school and Angie regretted not being Lizzie’s friend in high school.  I know Angie saw her best friend and her boyfriend in bed together, but she didn’t seem upset about what she saw.  And she really didn’t seem to upset about Lizzie’s death.

It felt very much like a mystery as Angie tries to figure out who’s passing out pages from Lizzie’s diary.  However, it was Angie from the very beginning, because she didn’t want anyone to forget about what they did to Lizzie.  I can’t say I’m surprised by this turn of events, but I did find it refreshing that Angie made sure people didn’t forget about what they did to Lizzie.  Normally, with a book that is about someone who’s dealing with the suicide of a loved one, it’s them trying to move on and cope with what happened…so it’s nice to see a book where that doesn’t happen.  Angie’s “investigation” felt a little forced, and for me, it was a little too unbelievable.

As far as issues go, there was too much going on.  There’s bullying, slut-shaming (sort of), suicide, rape (mentioned), sexual assault (also mentioned) and sexuality…it was just too much, and I felt like there was supposed to be a overall message about…something.  I’m not quite sure what, because there was enough going on with “issues” that I wasn’t sure what message Pitcher was aiming for.  I felt like any message Pitcher was going for was overshadowed by Angie’s revenge.

Angie’s revenge didn’t work for me either.  She talks about how horrible people were to Lizzie before her death, and how people only seemed to care after Lizzie died…which also describes Angie, but unlike everyone else, Angie did have reason to not like Lizzie.  Of course, it’s no reason to treat someone the way they treated her, but sadly, it does happen.

Lizzie’s diary was a nice touch, because we see Lizzie through her own eyes, instead of through the eyes of everyone around her.  But even that diary didn’t completely work for me, because Lizzie came across as 13 of 14 instead of the 17 or 18 she was supposed to be.

However, I will say that the characters felt pretty realistic, and that some of the events in the book felt pretty realistic too.  I can imagine a lot of the characters/events actually happening.

Final Thoughts:

The S-Word didn’t work for me.  However, I did like how realistic the book felt.  I do like the cover, which goes really well with the book- and I like the simplicity of it.  The S-Word gets 1 star.

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