The Story: After Lizzie was caught in a hotel room on prom night with her best friend’s boyfriend, the taunts and bullying begin. Overnight, Lizzie went from wholesome good girl, to unforgiveable slut. And she should know… her locker says as much. The janitors can’t paint over the words fast enough as more and more classmates mar her locker, bathroom stalls, and even her car. So she threw herself off a building to make it stop. It didn’t help though, as the words “suicide slut” start appearing on Lizzie’s locker in her handwriting, and pages from her journal pop up all over school in the hands of the very classmates who brought her down. Angie, Lizzie’s (former) best friend, blames herself. She was hurt and angry at Lizzie for sleeping with her boyfriend, but is Angie to blame because she didn’t defend her friend? Unable to forgive herself, Angie hunts down every last person who was involved in Lizzie’s bullying to try to bring down those who are rightfully at fault.
The Low Down: Plain and simple, this is a story of revenge. Not violent, twisted, evil revenge. Just flat out revenge. Angie is struggling with the last few weeks of Lizzie’s life. She may have been mad at her best friend for what she did, but she certainly didn’t want her to die. But she wants to make damn sure everyone who is responsible pays for what they did to Lizzie, even if it means bringing herself down in the process.
The S Word, is very psychologically complex, but you don’t need to have a PhD in psychology to understand why Angie feels so tormented. It reminded me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why in that the survivor of the suicide gets a full understanding of how people’s actions effect other people. Like 13RW, The S Word explores the trauma of abuse and bullying, and gives insight into how seemingly inconsequential events in a person’s life can rip them apart from the inside and change lives forever. There are many other issues the characters are confronted with, including cyber bullying, homosexuality, blackmail, jealousy, and abusive parents.
Angie confronts all these different characters in this novel, as they all had some sort of role in Lizzie’s suicide. Fortunately, they don’t get confused and jumbled, which sometimes happens in novels with large casts. Pitcher defines each character to the point where each personality has a notable place and reason. There are no extraneous characters to keep track of, and everyone featured is necessary to the plot.
The S Word is Chelsea Pitcher’s debut novel, and, for a first novel, I’d say she did a damn good job. There’s a little bit of room for growth in her writing, but I think she can only get better from here. I really look forward to reading more by Pitcher, especially if she continues to write such emotionally raw novels with edgy story lines.
Allow me to introduce you to the official book trailer for The S Word. For the next minute or so, sit back and enjoy.
The Bottom Line: Though this novel is basically a tale of revenge, the story is very psychologically complex. We see the world through Angie’s and Lizzie’s (through journal entries) eyes, and watch as the characters become better developed as the reasons behind Lizzie’s suicide unfold. If you enjoy those sorts of stories, I highly recommend this one.
OFFICIAL RATING: 8.5/10
*I received my copy of The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher as a digital eGalley from NetGalley. I was not given any form of payment or endorsement for my review, including alcohol, bubblegum, or cupcakes, nor was I kidnapped and held at gunpoint.