I would never have known about this book had a friend not sent it me in the mail and demanded that I read it. It is a pure delight.
Laura Pederson, like (YA God) John Greene, showers us with crossword puzzle-y facts that you never knew you really ought to know. Culture, cooking, antiques, literature, religion, and poker are just a few topics you will suddenly become strangely articulate in. And (oh yeah) it’s a beautiful coming-of-age story as well.
Hallie is a charming character, endearing in her struggles to be taken seriously in poker, and heroic in her fight to be allowed to live free from her parents who have proved to be increasingly too busy to notice her. This is a daring journey that Hallie takes on, and we are so glad she does. I wish more people knew about this book, this is one that deserves a U-Turn in time and marketing. If you love quirky YA fiction, here it is.
Lizzie and Angie are best friends until Prom night when Lizzie is caught in bed with Angie’s boyfriend, Drake. Devastated, Angie stays silent as unidentified students at Verity High School seek her revenge by writing “slut” on Lizzie’s locker. For three weeks, Angie watches while Lizzie is bullied and humiliated. But everything changes when Lizzie commits suicide. Rather than putting Lizzie’s bullying to rest, the hazing continues. “Suicide Slut” appears on Lizzie’s locker and photocopies of her diary show up all around the school. Now, Angie sets out to find the tormentors.
What follows is a complicated plotline wherein those who were seemingly innocent are suddenly guilty, and those that were obviously guilty might actually be innocent. Pitcher has an enviable handle on teen dialogue and angst, and her lowercase and random font changes keep the reader focused – to say the least.
The ending, while not giving it away here, is however a bit contrived. It is asking quite a lot from the reader to believe that a single hand-written diary could be the key that unlocks so many of these secrets. That said, there is still much to love here. Angie’s character is complex and compelling and flawed, and yet we root for her. And Pitcher’s writing style is at times mesmerizing and overall daring. This alone makes The S-Word a worthwhile read.