Thursday, May 9, 2013

The S-Word ~ Chelsea Pitcher (earc) review

The S-Word
Gallery Books
May 7, 2013
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

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. . . (partial synopsis from Goodreads)

The S-Word was not quite what I was expecting. I don't think that now, after having read it -- and thought about it -- that I can say just what it was I was expecting. Possibly something a little 'neater.' I'm happy that isn't what I got, though.

Chelsea Pitcher's debut isn't neat. It isn't pretty and it doesn't glamorize what happens in high school. Lizzie's high school experience -- and the high school experience we receive (and learn about) through Angie, isn't some glossy, remember-when version of high school. It's real, perhaps a bit gritty and can be harsh.

We see the after-effects of bullying, with Lizzie gone, having committed suicide and her best friend trying to find who's most responsible. It's through Angie's investigation -- and what it uncovers -- that we learn what Lizzie really experienced. It seems as if this method would make what was done to Lizzie less impactful, than experiencing it first hand, as it happened. How Pitcher writes things, along with how readers do learn about Lizzie's pain affects the story and, possibly, Angie, more.

Most of the characters in the book are fantastic. They're fresh and quite different from the ones we see in most novels, most YA novels, too. While one character may have played this high school role and another that role, they didn't feel stereotypical. Perhaps a bit archetypal when you look back at it, but they weren't canned characters. Each of them had something unique and fresh about them that made for great inclusion in the story. (Jesse was probably my favorite character.)

There was one story line that I felt ventured into stereotypical territory. The story, along with the characters used, was something I've seen used quite a lot and so I wasn't sure if the characters and that part of the story were done truly for The S-Word and where it needed to go or . . . because. It didn't harm the story and it worked, but it didn't feel as original as the rest of the novel.

I do love the play with S-Word and sword and how 'cutting' they both are, can be. It's a great title for an enjoyable read.

Rating: 7/10

thank you to the publisher for my egalley for review via NetGalley

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