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, she 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.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
LIZZIE WASN’T THE first person to kill herself this year. Five months prior to her final ascension Gordy “Queerbait” Wilson hanged himself in his basement. Rumor has it he used the belt his father beat him with. For two hours he hung there, feet hovering above the ground, before Daddy came down the stairs in search of a cold one.
I guess that’s the difference between Gordy and Lizzie.
Lizzie didn’t go quietly.
I’m Angelina Lake. I was Lizzie’s best friend. We were inseparable, until she hooked up with my boyfriend at the prom. Maybe you’ve heard about it? Every jackass in the blogosphere had a field day with the story: Little Miss Perfect Steals Prom Queen’s Beloved. My Lizzie with my Drake. The whole school came to my defense. And while Drake got off with a boys-will-be-boys slap on the wrist, Lizzie became the Harlot of Verity High.
It started with a single word, painted in the corner of her locker. I was coming out of English when I saw it. It was the Monday after prom, and Mrs. Linn had asked me to run some papers to the office. I’d barely taken three steps when Lizzie’s locker caught my eye.
The word was unmistakable. Even in tiny black writing, the marker stood out against the beige. I stepped up to it, running my fingers over the word.
Why had they written this? Heartbreaker would have been a better word. Backstabber. But slut? Lizzie never touched anybody before Drake. She was Princess Prude.
Still, there it was.
For a second, I thought about erasing it. I slid my nail across the S to see if it would chip. It didn’t, but I had plenty of pens in my bag. Three seconds and the word would be blotted out. Hidden, and even the vandal would forget. But if I left it there, and everybody could see it . . . well, how long before another one appeared?
Yeah, even then, I knew the word would multiply. I don’t know how. I could just feel it at the base of my neck, like fingers scratching me there. Warning me of what was going to happen.
The bell rang.
People poured into the hallway. My locker had been next to Lizzie’s all year, so no one batted an eye at the sight of me hovering there. Besides, most of us were still suffering from that two-day, post-prom hangover funk. Walking on shaky legs. Stumbling. Then everything went quiet, like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the hall. I knew people were watching me, even though my body blocked the graffiti.
The hallway pulsed with bodies, but it didn’t matter. Lizzie’s were the only eyes I could see. It was the first time I’d seen her since prom night. The first time I’d looked at her since her limbs were entangled with Drake’s. Here she was dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, quite the departure from baby-blue satin and ivory lace. She didn’t look like a princess anymore. Her eyes caught mine and we were frozen, both of us staring across the crowded hall, mesmerized by the wreckage of our friendship.
Everyone was watching.
My skin felt hot, and I didn’t want to move away from the locker, to reveal what was written there. Would she think I’d done it? Should I care? In the two days since I’d stormed out of the hotel room, leaving Drake to zip up his rented tuxedo pants while Lizzie tugged at the broken strap of her dress, I’d checked my phone a thousand times, waiting for her to explain.
Drake had called. Drake had apologized. Drake had begged for my forgiveness.
Drake had blamed Lizzie.
That’s when I told him to fuck off. It takes two to tango, and these two did way more than that. But my God, at least he’d called.
So there I was, mouth open, lips trying to form the word: Why?
Why hadn’t she called?
Why wasn’t she sorry?
I searched Lizzie’s face, trying to separate the image in front of me from my darkest memory. But everywhere I looked, I saw him. I saw his fingers tucking a strand of pale hair behind her ear. I saw him staring into her eyes, telling secrets. Did his lips trail in a semicircle around the curve of her chin, teasing and teasing until she gave in? Did they think of me at all?
I closed my eyes.
The movement hurt. My eyes stung, but it went deeper than that. I could barely swallow, my throat felt so sore. And Lizzie just stood there, pretty pink lips—kissable lips?—pursed in a frown.
Are you sorry?
I took a step forward. The crowd parted to let me pass.
Do you care?
Lizzie opened her mouth, as if to speak. But she must’ve thought better of it, because those kissable damn lips closed.
Or was I just the girl you used to get to Drake?
I tried to turn.
But I couldn’t. I was waiting for something. Maybe just for Lizzie to say my name. For godsakes, this was the girl who’d slept over at my house every Saturday since we were five, who’d held me when I cried over my parents’ divorce.
I tried to catch her eye. She studied the floor.
Lizzie, look at me.
Tell me you’re sorry.
Tell me you don’t hate me enough to hurt me this way.
Lizzie said nothing. When the tardy bell rang, she walked away. And as all the dramatic tension oozed out of the hallway, the onlookers left as well.
So did I.
Over the next few days, I checked my phone less and less often. My stomach didn’t drop quite so hard when I opened my locker to find no notes. A week went by, and still, Lizzie said nothing.
And when the second scribbling of SLUT appeared on her locker, I said nothing too.
IN THE WEEKS that followed, things got significantly worse for Lizzie Hart. Our once Untouchable Saint was now the Slut. And that word did exactly what I thought it would do. It multiplied, making little S-word babies. It spread to Lizzie’s notebooks, her book bag, even her car. It burrowed its way under her skin like a disease, poisoning her from the inside.
You could see it.
I could see it.
I said nothing.
Then someone created that playing card. You know, the one of Lizzie wearing nothing but a crown of stars? People passed it around and added little details. Some genius even came up with a title:
Lizzie Hart, Queen of Sluts.
That name followed her everywhere. I thought she’d never get away from it. But Queen Lizzie found a way. She did the one thing we never expected.
She died. And the S-word died with her.
It’s the Monday after Lizzie’s funeral, two weeks shy of graduation, and someone’s written SUICIDE SLUT all over the senior lockers.
And the weirdest thing? The words are in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for The S-Word includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In The S-Word, Chelsea Pitcher delivers an unflinchingly acute look at the world of high school students today. Seniors Angie and Lizzie have been friends since they were five, but when Angie walks in on Lizzie and Angie’s boyfriend, Drake, together in a hotel room on prom night, their worlds fall apart. Shattered by betrayal, Angie stops speaking to her once best friend, and it seems the entire school is backing her up when they cast Lizzie as a “slut.” When Lizzie then commits suicide, strange things start happening: incriminating pages from Lizzie’s diary show up in the lockers of the students who harassed her, and the words SUICIDE SLUT show up on Lizzie’s locker—in her own handwriting. Angie decides to punish the guilty parties and will stop at nothing, even when her vendetta threatens to consume her. With razor-sharp wit and keen sensibilities, Pitcher illuminates and explores some of the most pressing, deeply relevant issues for modern teenagers.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Angie refers to getting a dose of “high school,” a term Kennedy used, to justify why “SLUT” was first written on Lizzie’s locker (p. 11). How does the high school environment portrayed in the story compare to your experience? In what ways is it less or more restrictive?
2. Labels at Verity High are powerful and prevalent: prude, slut, queerbait, easy, Drama Queen, Homecoming King, whitetrash royalty. Angie contemplates, “I suppose it’s hard to treat someone appropriately if you don’t know what her classification is” (p. 54). Which characters seem to embrace their labels, and how are they treated by their fellow classmates? What happens to those who reject their assigned labels?
3. Early in the story Angie ponders the fallout from Drake and Lizzie’s prom-night encounter, explaining, “while Drake got off with a boys-will-be-boys slap on the wrist, Lizzie became the Harlot of Verity High” (p. 1). Why do you think some people are judged more harshly for their actions than others? Is it simply based on gender, or are there other factors? Have you ever been judged for things you’ve done by people who didn’t know the full story?
4. Jesse explains that he’s an outsider because “I’m Mexican and I’m wearing a skirt. The kids that don’t want to beat the queer out of me want me deported” (p. 47). The students at Verity seem to feel entitled to condemn the sexuality of people like Jesse and Gordy, and then treat them badly because of it. Were you ever in a situation where you judged someone for his or her sexuality, even when it had nothing to do with you? Why do you think people feel the need to go from maybe being uncomfortable with something, like homosexuality, to outright attacking it?
5. I n a conversation with Angie, Jesse says that when he was growing up, people treated him “like stilettos were going to show up on their feet without their permission” (p. 189), simply because he dressed differently. In your experience, has anyone ever challenged your idea of how people “should” dress? Have you ever used clothing in a way that challenged people’s perceptions?
6. Angie dismisses her mother as “the parent who doesn’t want me,” while her father is “the one who can’t support me” (p. 157). How do her very different relationships with her parents affect her and inform her choices? Does she share any characteristics with either parent?
7. As her quest for justice progresses, Angie finds out there is more and more that she didn’t know about Lizzie—things her own best friend didn’t tell her. Angie thinks she would have accepted Lizzie if she had known the truth, but do you think she would have? Have you ever discovered something surprising about someone you thought you knew well? How did it affect your relationship? Were you able to be as understanding as you thought you’d be before you found that thing out?
8. When Angie begins to seek justice against those who wronged Lizzie, she feels righteous as a vigilante. Is Angie right to seek this type of justice, or is she merely sinking to the level of the bullies, as Jesse suggests? When bringing wrongdoers to justice, at what point do we cross the line? When, in your opinion, does Angie come near, or even cross, that line?
9. Throughout the course of her investigation, Angie uncovers many of her classmates’ secrets. Kennedy’s secret, in particular, seems to require further action. What is Angie’s responsibility in this situation? Have you ever discovered something that made you feel like you had to intervene, even if you knew people would be angry with you? How would you have handled things if you were in Angie’s shoes?
10. I n her diary, Lizzie explored her feelings on being branded a “slut,” writing, “Ask a hundred people the meaning of that word and you’ll hear a hundred answers. It means absolutely nothing” (p. 89). While many of Angie’s classmates used the word slut with relative ease, they seemed truly shaken when suicide slut appeared. What is the S-word? Chelsea Pitcher’s website suggests the additional words severed, silence, secret, shame, separate, shunned, shattered, and scorned. Which word or words carry the most resonance for you in the story?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Lizzie, Jesse, and others in The S-Word are victims of bullying. If you are comfortable, discuss personal experiences with bullying, how it affected you when it happened, and whether it still affects you today.
2. Think of what you might do next time you see someone being bullied or singled out for ridicule. Planning out your actions ahead of time can help you know what to do when an actual situation arises and you’re under pressure to act.
3. Read (or reread) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle or Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, two of the books on Lizzie’s bookshelf. Consider the ways the stories address religion and science, and why that would have held significance for Lizzie.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sometimes it seems to be just a little thing that leads to a teen deciding to end her life but those little things loom very large in the minds of young people who are already awash in emotions just from life in general. In the s-word, we experience the journey of a girl who thought she was terribly wronged and another who truly was. The question is which is which or is it both? 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.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher Publisher: Gallery Books Publication Date: May 7, 2013 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: I enjoyed this book! I definitely have my issues with it, but for the most part, I did enjoy this novel. The characters, the character development, and the plot were very well structured. I think the romance bothered me, but it was an okay romance story. Angie's high school is definitely way different from my high school. She has a "Mean Girls"-esque high school, whereas I don't think I do. Things get fierce and violent and personal in Angie's high school. Sometimes, this was entertaining; other times, I seriously questioned the authenticity of this story. Angie is the protagonist of this story. She harbors a lot of guilt over Lizzie's suicide. I felt bad for Angie at times, but other times, I wanted to shake her for acting wishy-washy. I'm glad that Angie continued to figure out what was going on after Lizzie's suicide, and that Angie puts Lizzie's mistake behind her. Jesse is definitely a more interesting character, in my opinion. He is Angie's gay friend, and he helps Angie deal with the guilt and sorrow of Lizzie's suicide. He also helps Angie with discovering what happened to Lizzie. His role in the story is... strange, but I like him. I liked seeing Angie change throughout the story, though I don't think she made a complete change until the very end. Angie went from being extremely selfish yet guilty about Lizzie's suicide, to understanding and accepting of Lizzie's suicide. The story is pretty good, though I didn't approve of some actions and events that occurred. And the romance - eh. I didn't really like it. I wasn't absorbed into the relationship. BUT, there was no love triangle. What I Did Not Like: I find it hard to believe that this type of high school exists. The defacement of school property is NOT acceptable. In my high school, the administrators would not stand for students writing on other students' lockers. And the cap and gown thing? You're not allowed to write things or alter your cap and gown as a high school student. Believe me, I just went through graduation - I would know. Save it for college. I didn't really like the plot of this story, though it did keep me interested. I guess I didn't understand the point of it. Try and find out who made Lizzie kill herself? Well, Lizzie killed herself. And everyone who was after her for doing what she did to Angie - they made her feel like she needed to kill her self. There were some other "tough issues" that were presented in this book, but I felt like they weren't obviously stated, and that readers had to really read between the lines to figure out what was going on, and what the big secret was. The big reveal was not executed well, by the author. And the extra "tough issues" but - too much. It didn't feel necessary to the story. The romance was bleh. It wasn't believable, it seemed forced and fake, and I wasn't really cheering for the protagonist and her love interest to get together. Romance in this book was not needed, but it was there, and it did not feel right. I'm trying to be vague so I don't spoil anything! The ending was kind of happy-go-lucky, everybody-wins-except-the-bad-guy good. So, it was good, but predictable. I think by the end of the book, I was rolling my eyes at the remaining scenes. Would I Recommend It: Not really. Don't trip over your TBR pile in an attempt to read this one. It is an enjoyable read, but I probably won't read it again. Rating: 3 stars - but on the low end of the three stars. I was somewhat impressed, but not really impressed enough to love this book.
I received a ARC copy from NetGalley. The S-Word is one of those books that will stay with you even after you finish reading it. It deals with many touchy subjects that not only affect teens but society in general. Bullying is one of the main topics focused on in this story. Words have power to inspire, uplift, encourage or to tear down, destroy. Our actions toward others have the same consequences or outcomes. This is what I take from this book. Even though this is a fictional story with fictional characters, the subject matter addressed happens at schools all around the world today. I would definitely recommend this book.
With paragraphs that were forgotten soon after reading them and awkward dialogue and phrases such as: Plus, she's got that ass people rap about. OR Like you care about your blow-up doll? The S-Word has made it's way, with lightening speed, to the top of my "Can I just get the last few hours of my life back? Please?" list. It's sad because for the most part the blurb sounded pretty interesting. I figured it had a bit of potential, I did have my doubts due to the whole sleeping with the best friends boyfriend and all the slut shaming that was sure to ensue but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I wish I hadn't. There was just too many things that made me excessively roll my eyes while reading this book. The fact that the teenagers all hang out at a dirty underground sort of coffee shop that doesn't seem to care if they bring in flasks full of booze in with them. Classy! Or how Angie, whom if I'm going to be perfectly honest I had forgotten her name until it was mentioned again at about 12% in, fancies herself to be quite the detective and most of the time she acted like she was in a 1950s Film Noir piece. Her detective work just seemed too over the top. Her reactions and the reactions of those she "questioned" or were her "suspects" just became completely ridiculous. And because of the excruciating dialogue, like the examples above. It was hard to pick up and easy to put down. But now I want to go back to the subject that had me scratching my head once I really thought about it. Why would people even be responding to Angie when she questioned them about Lizzie and the slut shaming? She'd ask, they'd eventually spill along with some secret or something. Why? She's just a classmate. I think had not everything else bothered me I probably wouldn't of cared and may have even found it fun. But... When I actually did pick it up I found myself skimming quite a bit and parts that I didn't skim wound up leaving me just as fast as I turned to the next page. The only thing I didn't get irritated with and made any sort of sense to me was the random and rambling diary entries of Lizzie's. I wish I had something more positive to say but for me, there just wasn't any.
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. This was a heart wrenching story to read. Our family has been personally touched by a teenage suicide and then as here a young life was lost because of secrets, lies, and misinformation. The book is told from Angie’s point of view and questions, guilt, and anger over her best friend’s death are just eating her alive. Her personal journey through the grieving process while trying to hold herself and others responsible drive this story while at the same time as teaching several lessons about bullying and judging people. Actions do have consequences. The author walks the fine line with subjects that could go very dark but by adding real high school behaviors in a very ingenious way she has escaped that trap. A plot full of surprises and realizations make this a hard book to put down. The diary entries added immensely to the story as we learned Lizzie’s way of not even naming names in a place where she kept her private thoughts. This is heavy read with some expected and unexpected resolutions. I think it would be a great book to add to high school reading lists.
The S-Word is one of the most heart-breaking and thought provoking books I have read. Why? These things really do happen. This raw and realistic read tells the story of a girl who is so deeply tormented for a wrong choice and with no place else to turn she takes her life. Lizzie has been publicly branded a SLUT with a capital S! On the night of prom, Lizzie is caught in bed by Angie her best friend in the arms of her boyfriend. Big Mistake! Angie dumps her cheating boyfriend, Drake and is now ignoring Lizzie, doing her best to pretend she does not exists. Until the word... SLUT! ...appears all over Lizzie locker. The one thing Angie never expected was for Lizzie to stay silent during everything. No apologies, no excuses, no nothing! The entire school has turn against Lizzie including Angie....and with no place else to turn.... LIZZIE. KILLS. HERSELF. Only now the word SLUT is replaced with: SUICIDE SLUT ....in Lizzie's handwriting... Angie is now faced with trying to uncover the mystery of why Lizzie killed herself, and what REALLY happen on prom night....a night that changed Angie and Lizzie's lives forever! If I had to describe this book is just three words they would be: Tragic Addictive REAL! The S-Word totally blew me away. So many raw and heart-rending emotions while reading. I felt so bad for what Lizzie felt she had to do but also to see the way Angie her best friend dealt with her death. But what Angie does after the death of her friend is what really makes the story interesting. The uncovering of what really happen to Lizzie and who is the blame turned my mind completely upside down. The main character, Angie is a huge part of what makes this book so good. Her self-discovery, path to forgiveness, and learning to trust and love again. Now while I feel some of you may be a bit apprehensive of such sensitive subjects throughout the book (I was too at first) I would at least given it a try. Not only did I completing adore The S-Word but I felt I learned something too, which for me is a huge plus. Author, Chelsea Pitcher has written such a beautifully raw novel that will captivate it's readers long after the final pages. One of my favorite reads by far this year....one I will remember for a lifetime.
Conducted as an investigation into the deepest high school secrets, the story is captivating. Lizzie sleeps with her best friend's boyfriend and the whole school ignites. An error, a simple mistake and a life dramatically changes. It sounds stupid to commit suicide for trifles, which will not be remembered in adulthood, except that when you're a teenager, every little thing takes exaggerated impressive proportions. Especialy if sex is involved! Angie is shaken by the death of her best friend and her betrayal. So, she goes on a quest to uncover the truth. She wants to punish the culprits who wrote the word "Slut" and want to understand as well, why the one she knew since childhood had been able to break their bond. A beautiful dive into friendship. If looking for troubles, they will eventually jump to your face... And, tone of secrets explode around Angie. Not necessarily expected ones. Sometimes, truth is harder to bear and guilty emotions can be overwhelming. The "what if" game can be lethal... Warning, readers are not in a fairy tale. Child molestation, rape for the heavy ones. But also, jealousy, insecurity, loneliness that lead to bad decisions, irreparable acts. The weight of secrets, struggling to open up without knowing how much. Guilt. The value of friendship or prejudices. Not to mention the importance of being part of a group to avoid being excluded. Cultivate a style, be accepted by a clique even if it is painful to wear a masque not to suffer to be different. A tough but fair enough vision of life in high school. Written as a Cluedo game, I was immediately captived and I followed the signs to the final revelations. Very nice dive into the cruelty of life. Lucie newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr
Going into this, I was expecting an emotional, dark contemporary about a girl grieving the loss of her friend and out for revenge. In the case of revenge, yes, we get that. But the deep dark emotions, not so much. I didn't feel bad for Angie, in fact, I didn't really like her much. It's not to say this wasn't a good book, it just wasn't quite what I was expecting. Also, completely predictable. Which in some cases I don't mind since it's common for me to figure things out, but the journey to the end wasn't interesting enough to counteract that I knew where it was going. Angie was very self centered. Everything was always about her. Even Lizzie's death. Then she is supposedly feeling so guilty about it that she needs to get revenge, and starts to interview people to the point where I thought it was verging on bullying. She was pushy and not thinking about anyone else or how they might feel. Then, it's been like a few weeks since her friend died and she's all wrapped up in this new guy. She's just kind of a nut job. Like, really. I get that her dedication to her now dead friend is supposed to be all inspiring and all, but her character just was not likeable. Also, she's not thinking about the fact that the revenge she wants to get on people and the things she is doing or planning to do could push some other people over the edge the way that it did with Lizzie. Of course there is romance. What's a YA novel with tragic circumstances without it right? Unfortunately, I really could have done without. It's not that I didn't like Jesse, but I just felt that the romance was distasteful considering she's just lost her friend, and it just seemed a bit forced to me. Actually, Jesse was one of the characters I enjoyed in this book. He seemed to be the only one capable of logical thinking, and that's including the parents too. He was nice, caring, and wanted to do the right things, and not betray or hurt anyone. So this sounds like a really negative review, but it wasn't a bad book. It was just very predictable to me, and it didn't really seem like Angie was out to avenge Lizzie's death for most of it. It was more like she needed to make herself feel better about it. To get rid of her guilt, but she didn't come across as someone who was upset over someone she's known her whole entire life dying. I know that they weren't friends at the time, but they had been best friends their whole life. It's not to say she wasn't upset, but it seemed she was more mad about not knowing who did the horrible things to make Lizzie kill herself, and the guilt over feeling like they did it all because of her, than actually being sad that she was gone. I don't know, maybe it just came across that way to me, but I just didn't feel it. There was also a whole bunch of other issues from every direction in this too. Almost to the point of too much in one book. I liked it enough, but it wasn't fabulous for me.
The S-Word was one of those books that is going to stay with me for a long time to come and I'm still trying to gather my wits about me so if my review seems jumbled and vague my apologies. This was such an intricate novel that I don't want to give anything major away. For those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile you know that contemporary YA novels are not my most favourite books so I surprised myself for signing up for this tour in an effort to expose myself to new authors and get into other genres more. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher was a realistic read that brought me back to my high school days (which are only 5 years behind me). The characters were very life like and some of them had me questioning weather the author had plucked people out of my past but that just goes to show that the high school experience is one that is similar no matter where you grow up. The book was a heavy read and a pretty powerful one at that. The darkness, sadness and cruelty of the story line as well as the characters the author created. I wasn't expecting this one to turn out like it did even though I had seen review of it before and read the summary it still surprised me but I was most surprised by my reaction to it. I really felt for Lizzie and Angie. Lizzie I felt bad for that she turned to suicide as the answer and Angie I felt bad for because she was left reeling from the suicide of her best friend, guilt for turning her back on her as well as the pressure she puts on herself investigating what drove her beloved Lizzie to kill herself. When I finished the book the one thing I thought of was that it reminded me of a spiders-web. There were many seemingly unimportant threads on the outside the worked their way into the center of the web in the for of the overall plot line and I was really surprised by the complexity of it all because I wasn't expecting such a high level of skill from a debut author. Emotional, raw and slightly unforgiving I thought this was a good read with good main characters and an above average plot line. My only issue with it was that it was a little too clichéd at times and I wish that a couple of the side characters had been slightly more developed. Despite the dark subject matter I thought it was a very good read. I would highly recommend this book to fans of the contemporary young adult genre especially if you're in the market for an emotionally gritty novel dealing with teen suicide, the horrors of high school for today's teens and looking for a unique read. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.
When I first started reading this book, I wouldn't have given you very good odds that I would end up liking it. There were some things that really made me pause, so I was thinking this was going to be a big disappointment, especially after how much I'd anticipated it and built it up in my head. Let's just say, I'm so glad I didn't let my first impression make the decision. I stuck with it and was very rewarded to have finished it, because I thought this book was absolutely amazing. First, characters. I loved the characters. Although Angie didn't seem to have tried to stop other kids from being mean to Lizzie after she was caught in bed with Angie's boyfriend, she couldn't have known that it would drive Lizzie to suicide. So I didn't really blame her for not stopping it, especially when she didn't really take part in it. And after Lizzie's suicide, I admired this girl fiercely for her single-minded purpose in trying to figure out what was behind Lizzie's suicide, who might have helped it along. She was unswerving, and so smart in how she approached it. At times, it seemed sort of ruthless, because although she isn't happy her friend is dead and that her boyfriend betrayed her, you never really see her upset. Most teenaged girls would cry, lash out, etc... but she never did. So it made her seem kind of cold, which is one of the things that made me pause. However, I was so sucked into the story, and how smart and determined she was, that I figured, okay, so the hunt for answers gave her a purpose that's derailing her grief. I was able to accept that. My biggest issues were with Jesse, the male lead. He's a cross-dressing straight guy who allows everyone to think that he's gay. Although I kind of understood why he did this later in the story, I had a hard time picturing him as a romantic lead for her. I loved him as a character. I thought he was funny and sweet. But as a male lead to a strong female character, I had a hard time buying it. It took some maneuvering, and I did finally reach a point where I was able to forget about that... so kudos to the author for making him so loveable that you just had to overlook that he just wasn't a masculine guy. He loved her and cared about her, which was enough. In the end, I really loved him. The greatest strength to this story was the story itself. It was awesome. I loved it, loved the writing, the pacing...everything was perfect. In fact, there was a really big shocker that came toward the end of the book that absolutely floored me. I never saw that coming, and I had to be super impressed with the author for keeping it a secret from the reader considering that we were inside Angie's head. Great book!
If you're looking for a book that grabs you from the first sentence and never lets go, this is the book for you. While the premise promises a good deal of angst--17-year-old Angie blames herself and her classmates for her best friend's suicide--the journey through the story is remarkable for not wallowing in despair. Angie begins the story by playing detective; she works to discover who had decorated her friend's locker with the word SLUT, pushing the girl over the edge. Angie wants revenge, but as her investigation uncovers secret after secret, she begins to wonder if it's not herself she wants to punish. Pitcher is a master writer. Angie, who serves as the novel's narrator, is often raw and unflinching in her views of the situation, and her voice comes off as pitch perfect. Playing counterpoint to Angie is Jesse, who is widely despised as a cross-dressing gay boy but somehow manages to rise above his tormentors. But everyone in this story has something to hide, and the pages fly by as Pitcher explores one after the next, highlighted by excerpts from the dead girl's diary. The author's pacing and prose make this a lightning-quick read as the action catapults toward the climax at high school grad night. Readers will appreciate the true-to-life nature of the characters, their interactions, and Angie's emotions as she copes with what she discovers. Redemption can come from sorrow, and sometimes sorrow just is what it is--unbelievably hard. No preachy lessons here, just a wise exploration of the human heart.
sdfsadjfsdkfThe S-WORD centers on the suicide of a girl named Lizzie. After Lizzie is caught with her best friend Angie's boyfriend on prom night, she's branded a slut at school and eventually driven to suicide. The book opens with Angie set out to exact vengeance on the biggest tormentors, even as she's wracked by her own guilt. It was an absorbing YA take on the noir genre--at turns dark, sad, wise, and hopeful. It was also wrapped up in so many serious topics for teens--sex, bullying, sexuality, family, abuse...thoroughly impressed by how deftly Pitcher balanced these huge topics which, separately, is so daunting to address. This reading experience was interesting because my investment in the main character, Angie, was a slow build-up that grew really strong by the end of the novel. Her (true to noir-form) confident and wise-cracking persona in the beginning slowly peel back to reveal her vulnerabilities and innermost insecurities, which end up being so relatable and engaging. Her voice felt really distinct and you end up rooting for this strange popular girl and her plan for major payback. You also grow to know Lizzie through her diary entries that unfold throughout he novel, but also in the memories of Angie. After growing so fond of Lizzie, you have to accept that she's gone--just like Angie does. Her story is really heartbreaking in the end, and Pitcher does a fabulous job of bringing us there emotionally. With all the great twists and turns of a good mystery, it was an easy read because Pitcher's pacing is so satisfyingly quick and her dialogue so snappy. Truly impressive debut.
I was nervous about reading The S-Word at first because it didn't have any werewolves, vampires, or demon battling slayer in it and that is usually my go to books. My comfort zone if you will. But I was definitely intrigued reading the synopsis and I have to say I am so happy that I decided to take a chance. I feel absolutely changed from reading The S-Word. For me, this was a very powerful piece of literature that really makes the reader take a deep dark look into the effects of bullying, labeling and rumors. I really feel like this a story that every person could benefit from by reading it. I was just blown away by the dark and gritty nature of the book. It isn't this light hearted fun romantic read. No. The S-Word is a heavy, get lost in the narrator's sadness, kind of book. It is hard not to feel the pain that Angie is feeling from Lizzie's suicide. From the writing style, we can see the emotions playing upon Angie as she tries to get through Lizzie's death. I think the fact that the writing is all over the place shows us physically how Angie is at her rock bottom right now. Because this high school that these young people have to deal with now? It's nothing like I had to deal with growing up. Sure I had bullies; I think bullies exist everywhere (though I wish they didn't) but nothing this harsh. And yet I still found myself relating to Lizzie, Angie, and Jessie as their raw emotions poured from these pages. I am going to tell you right now: I literally did not have a dry eye left by the end of this book, which I finished in about two days. I had to take a step back from the book and take a deep breath to get my bearings. The ending completely took my breath away and I knew right then that The S-Word would stay with me forever. Now, there were some unknowns that I did figure out right away. Where Lizzie was coming from in her diary pages, as well as prom too. But there were other plot threads that totally eluded me and I never would have guessed it in a hundred years. I feel like in a lot of ways, the author wanted us to understand some of the mysteries before the characters. This way it caused what we, the reader, didn't get right away to be even more of a shocker. Sorry guys, I know I am being so cryptic right now but I don't want to give anything away that might influence your initial reaction to this superb piece of writing. Just trust me on this please. The S-Word is full of deep dark secrets everywhere we turn. Nothing is as it seems and yet some things never change too. It has this dark crime noir feel to it but for young adults. There are some real heartbreaking issues that are dealt with in this novel. These secrets could shatter the lives of everyone in this novel about lies, truths, and a case of revenge....and forgiveness.
Yes, teen suicide has been done before and yes so has high school life, despite all that I think this was an incredibly good book. It saddens me to think that our children, teens and young adults are forced to partcipate in what I can only call a daily theatrical appearance, which is known as school. Forced to scheme, adjust, lie to fit in and/or try to get by without becoming a target. They are either in the group that taunts others, so they don't become the taunted or they are the ones being flogged emotionally, pyschologically and often physically. (flogged being a metaphor for the bullying). This farce of social interaction whilst growing up is a breeding ground for crimes, which are deemed harmless, just pranks or the games of children. These crimes are a loophole in all legal systems because they are committed under the guise of children just teasing children. I wonder how many deaths it will take before someone realises that there has to be some kind of consequence for such cruel and vile acts of social and personal annihilation. Anyway I digress. The main character is consumed by anger, guilt and is seeking the truth about Lizzie. She knows why Lizzie committed suicide but she wants to understand how it got to that point. Working her way thrugh the intricate details of the last few weeks/months before the tragic event it suddenly becomes a search for someone to blame. The reader gets a good look at the way the teenage mind works. How one slight of hand or single decision can make a person set events in motion that can never be unheard, unseen or forgotten. The author shows us how a click of a social media button or the sending of one email can light the fire under the supposed heretics stake. Each act is linked to another and each person has their own secrets and reasons for contributing to the suicide. Leaving aside the issue of cruelty amongst young people there is also the subtle message that is asking each one of us to look closely before we judge. To think before we cast aspersions on a person's character and to remember that none of us know what goes on behind closed doors, nor do we know what is thought by those who we believe to know the most. It is in essence asking us to think before we act, to hesitate before we cast the first stone. That might seem a little complex for the content of this book and yet this is exactly why it was so good. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.
The writing in The S-Word is unfocused and all over the place. There were far too many “big issues” crammed into one book. [SPOILER: suicide, rape, sexual abuse, bullying, gay teens, and I've probably missed a few.] In another book, these issues might be able to flow nicely together, but in The S-Word it felt like the author was just trying to cram them all into one book. The entire book was sloppy and poorly put together. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to recommend this book to anyone. The only reason I even finished it was because my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know who was responsible for the graffiti on Lizzie’s locker. *** This book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ***
Remember high school? Peer pressure? This is the story of how one innocent girl is tormented to the point of suicide and how her best friend and worst tormentor learns from her own guilt at turning her back on someone who needed her most. Angie caught her best friend, Lizzie in bed with her boyfriend on prom night. At that point, she turned her back on Lizzie, thinking only the worst. As the school bullied Lizzie, Angie went along with it, until she read Lizzie's diary and learned of the life of torment that was long hidden. Angie needed to expose the truth, to avenge Lizzie, to rid herself of her own demons. Although a painful story, the guts and determination shown by the main character were admirable. Getting to the finish line was an intense, well-thought-out journey by the author, highlighting the damages wrought by peer pressure and small-mindedness. A must read for teens! This ARC edition was supplied by NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review. Publication date: May 7 2013