The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher is not the best or worst book of all time. It had a great premise and potential; however, the execution was not amazing. First, I would like to take a second to thank the author for putting herself out there and also trying to accomplish a good book. This book is not going to go into the cannon of literature, but it still is a good book. Angie our protagonist is out to figure out who to blame for her best friend’s suicide; the problem is that Angie is one of the many students who gave a hand (even if it was through inaction) in the bullying of Lizzie Hart. Lizzie was caught in a compromising situation with Angie’s boyfriend on prom night, after that the word “Slut” is scribbled on her locker and soon the snow ball effect is initiated until Lizzie takes her own life.
So you figure, this is a regular old book about suicide and the effects of bullying, right? NO! This is not true, at least not completely. What Pitcher tried and was pretty successful for the most part was to create a detective story out of this. We follow Angie as she is questioning the cheer captain, the thespians, the weird creepy neighbor boy and finally Drake (the cheating ex). All this time there are pieces of Lizzie’s diary being shoved into lockers with specific dates for specific people. There is this picture of what occurred between prom and Lizzie’s suicide in the readers mind and every now and then, BAM! something happens to change that picture just a little bit. These changes are so subtle that it’s almost unnoticeable; however, the picture at the beginning of the novel is completely different than that at the end.
What I liked: Lizzie is never present, present. Whenever Lizzie interacts with characters in the story it is through memories; however, she was a full blown active character. Nothing was meant to be supernatural in this story but the diary entries, the reactions of students and also Angie’s behavior make Lizzie an almost tangible presence that can sometimes be stifling for the characters. That part of the book was cool; kudos Pitcher for creating a creepy “Rebecca” persona but with a heart (everyone who doesn’t know what I am referring to please look up Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier).
What needs more work: the writing was not amazing; however, with above mentioned techniques this writer has the potential to eventually write great books. It takes practice people, and I find that if I can read what you wrote and understand the message(s), motifs, themes, language, and everything else that comes with literature then you are close to getting better. Sometimes I wish that some negative reviewers would try and sit in front of a computer and be creative. I don’t mean talk about your opinion, I mean disguise your opinion so much that it is completely embedded in a story to the point of being hidden. It is not easy and I will not pretend it is. Again, I stress. For her debut novel I think she did great and if I were 10 years younger I probably wouldn’t have cared if her writing was terrible as long as the story wasn’t.
Thanks NetGalley!3/5 stars