May 28, 2013

Review: The S-Word

I found myself comparing this novel to the movie ‘Easy A’ as I was reading it—without the literary and teen movie allusions and humor. After all, Pitcher is playing on a societal truth when it comes to sex and females.

This needs new cover art
Title: ‘The S-Word’
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
ISBN: 9781451695168
Pages: 304
Publisher: Gallery Books
Available: NOW at your local library or bookstore
Source: 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.

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.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read mixed reviews on this novel, and I too find myself having mixed feelings about it. But, there is only a limited amount I can write without ruining important plot elements, so I will try my best.

I will first start with Angie’s character. I enjoyed following her through the mystery of what really happened the night Angie walked in on Lizzie in the bed on prom night. I guess it’s because I love reading mysteries, but for Angie, that detail seemed to be what haunted her the most. Not so much that she abandoned Lizzie as a friend, after all, she did catch Lizzie in the bed with her boyfriend, but that for her she needed to know the truth. The truth about Lizzie, about their friendship, about the suicide, about prom night.

Lizzie’s character development is quite interesting. Readers learn about her through her diary pages, pages that seem to find themselves popping up all over school. Now at first I took issue with this element of the plot, and then I started thinking about it. I have taught high school for thirteen years, and with the introduction of text messaging and social media into teen lives, I can see something like this happening. After all, high schoolers thrive on gossip. What better gossip than to get the pages from the victim herself? While this may seem a bit over the top, so is high school. And with the introduction of so much technology into their lives, trust me when I say that many teens today seem to have lost the filter that we had when we were their age.

For the overall plot, it was okay. I originally requested this novel because I am always looking for strong YA reads on suicide, but there are not many. I was hoping this would be one I could book talk with my students and get them to read and discuss. While I was not overly enthralled with the plot, I feel that many of my kids will be. After all, they are Pitcher’s target audience.

The pace of the plot is right on the money for teen readers. The chapters are not too long, the idea is interesting, and many teens could find themselves in several of the minor characters. I cannot see many of them connecting with Angie or Izzie individually, but I can see them connecting with their friendship, with betrayal, with loss, with shame, etc. that Pitcher explores throughout the novel.

Elements were predictable, which I’ve read people complain about, but when you read a lot, don’t books become predictable? After all, Joseph Campbell once wrote that there is a single story of man that is constantly being reinvented through storytelling.

Do you have any suggestions on novels for me to read or add to my classroom library that deals with suicide? I have ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ and ‘The Pact.’

Comment below and let’s talk about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear from you