Book Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
(Started: June 19, 2013; Finished: July 09, 2013)

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. (From Goodreads)
Review: 3 stars
Published: May 07, 2013
Source: Gallery Books through Netgalley
Shelf: Goodreads, Shelfari
Available at: Amazon
Admit it. Most likely we've used an S-word in our lives that might have a negative connotation or gives us an uneasy feeling. As soon as I've seen the cover, a lot of S-words came to mind from sex to shame, sadness to slut. But with the big red S on the middle, I knew it was a heavy one. Either slut, suicide or both. To tell you honestly, I did not notice the few marked words that make the letter an understatement. Now that I've seen it up close, the cover just states the shallow and obvious parts of the story.

On the good points, I love how the author wanted to discuss some important social issues like labels and bullying, even depression and suicide. I think it is a good way to relay a message and to reach out to the young readers which we think are difficult to do due to the different environments, social media, and perhaps a generation gap. There are a lot of shows and books already discussing it but these issues won't die down. It even became more rampant and more violent. I really appreciate all the efforts. I just had the problem feeling the strong emotions that book covered. There were times when I felt that I have reached the peak of emotions but then it will immediately die down. I guess it was because of how the story was written; it was immensely fast paced. I wish some parts were discussed further to help me have a full grasp of the feelings the characters are experiencing. The shifting greatly affected the story line making it a bit confusing at times and or shallow. I think it was because the author wanted to create a mystery feel which I actually felt and gave me a few mind games. It was good but I think it might have also caused the book negative points since I was a bit dismayed towards the end. I was so excited to crack the mystery but it fell flat. So I wish it was executed differently so that it would be more effective. It could have been more empowering. But the twist was unexpected so I had to commend the author for that. I did not even predict or get hints that that was the twist.

With the characters, the use of labels, as much as I don't want to say it, helped the story to be more realistic and "relatable." It might have sound or looked typical, but it could give the readers a realization that this, too, should be addressed. It shows the very wide division of the social order even in school. How despite this modern age, women, homosexuals, etc. are still part of the minority. As seen on Lizzie's case, assuming she didn't do anything wrong, it was solely her fault and she must be condemned for it while Angie's boyfriend claimed bragging rights. It also tells us you can't be different because it disrupts the order of things, which speaks of Jesse's case. Now to pinpoint the major characters, Lizzie was an enigma. I wouldn't have known what kind of person she really is since there were times she was misleading and confusing. I just wished she was stronger and she stood for herself but that would have been a different story but could have been more inspiring. I don't get Jesse though. He is a guy with principles but I think he needs a little more work. I wasn't able to picture him out. I can't imagine how he dresses up differently which made people see him as a homosexual. I wish he was described more so the readers could get a clearer picture. Last is Angie. She was a difficult case, I tell you. She was inspiring and a fighter at times, then a stubborn whiner the next. She also relies on her gut-feel and wouldn't think about the consequences first before taking action. She would push people away who she thinks contradicts her and stand by some of her decisions, which were mistakes in the long run. She could have been the person that could bring light to these issues but she failed to deliver the main purpose of the whole story.

Nevertheless, the story has so much promise to it and could have been powerful enough to address numerous social issues but it failed to go to that direction. It could have been a food for the mind to encourage further discussion about such matter it didn't deliver such provoking and persuasive thoughts.

For the quotes I got from the book, please visit my Tumblr:

Happy Reading Everyone!

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