Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 7th May 2013My rating: 3.5 stars
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.
The S-Word was a story which didn’t sit well with some of my blogging friend’s early reviews. But despite the not so promising reviews I decided to give it a try to see what it was all about. And I’m glad that I did, as a story which repeatedly squeezes your heart and surprises you with its twists and turns is definitely worth a go.
Angie’s best friend Lizzie commits suicide after being branded a slut at school for sleeping with Angie’s boyfriend Drake. She’s publically humiliated and tormented for so long, with no one by her side she sees this as the only way out. I’m glad that I didn’t just believe everything we were told about Lizzie’s story. It’s quite easy to just hear a couple of things about someone and make your own judgement instantly. And that’s what a lot of the characters in The S-Word did. Angie had been best friends with Lizzie forever, but never spoke to Lizzie afterwards to hear her side of the story. Whereas others just pushed and picked away at Lizzie, so there’s a lot of guilt going around when Lizzie’s gone. But who is really to blame for this mess? Lizzie who had no disregard for the years of friendship with Angie or the person who instigated all this by writing slut on Lizzie’s locker in the first place?
Despite Lizzie no longer being around I liked how Pitcher made her voice come through the story. Through diary entries and other characters reliving situations with Lizzie we were fully able to understand what really happened. I enjoyed the mystery aspect to the story, with Angie acting as detective and having a list of possible suspects of who could be to blame. Were left to unravel several stories, which showed how horrendous life had become for Lizzie. And despite Angie doing her best to make up for the last couple of weeks, some of the secrets which were revealed illustrated that there was this whole other side of Lizzie that she didn’t even know about. Angie is left with a terrible guilt eating away at her, if only she hadn’t left everyone to gang up against Lizzie, if only she’d listened to her or even tried to get her to open up a bit more. But she knows nothing will be enough to bring her back, so uncovering who was behind destroying Lizzie in the first place and bringing them down to seems the best place to start.
The S-Word was a truly eye opening read in terms of gaining insights into back stories of characters. I loved how Pitcher toyed with my feelings and made me suspect every single character some of the stories which were revealed weren’t all that pretty. But never have I changed my mind about how I felt about a character this many times in a story. I made so many assumptions, but time again Pitcher shocked me with further revelations. The best part for me was when there was a whole messed up scene, the whole mystery of Lizzie’s story was completely turned on its head. It did make my stomach churn and think this was one sick and twisted character. I honestly didn’t know how far this character would go. But the way things played out was perfect for me, there was no fancy ending, with everyone being fine and dandy, but Pitcher left us with the most realistic ending which seemed possible.
The S-Word was a tough story to get through, with it dealing with issues of bullying, self-esteem, love and peer pressure. There are some really dark scenes too, but sometimes raw and honest stories like this need to be told.