Have you ever read a book that is so incredibly gripping that you have to keep reading just to see how it will all end? This was the case with Every Ugly Word, by Aimee L. Salter. Every Ugly Word is a YA novel about the horrible world of bullying. Salter tells us the story of Ashley who is, in graphic detail, bullied in high school. Ashley's only relief is her own reflection in the mirror, but there is a twist to her reflection, it's her older self. This may sound hokey, but it makes for a very interesting story.
What I liked best about this book is that I believe it's a very accurate account of what bullying has morphed into since I was in high school. I remember the rumors about the "school slut", the notes passed in class, hating the girl that talked to your boyfriend, and all of that. In this book, we see the effects social media and and the struggle to be part of the "in crowd" have on teens today. I think that this book would be an excellent read for anyone who has been accused of bullying. This would really open their eyes to how something as simple as starting a rumor or name calling can snowball into something else. But really, lots of tweens and teen could benefit by reading this book. It would give them a better understanding on what bullying looks like. I feel like sometimes when you are in the middle of it, whether bullying or being bullied, you can't really see what is happening.
I also enjoyed the suspense of the book. It's told in two parts, real time and flash backs, or so you think. I'm not entirely sure which was which. But in telling Ashley's story, Salter really kept the pace going. I finished this book in less than three days. I just had to know what was going to happen to Ashley. I was totally invested in her story, but I'm still on the fence about her as a character.
Sadly, Ashley wasn't the most likable character. We find that she started one of the rumors about herself to bolster her popularity. The Author chalks this up to naive stupidity as a tween, but the consequences never leave Ashley as we now find her as a senior. I had a hard time with this, since I felt like she put herself in this situation. I was able to have sympathy for her but not pity,she has a horrible mother, no father figure, and a best friend who seems dense at best. I know with all of those things stacked against her, it may be hard for her to reach out to anyone for help. Even her best friend seems to have blinders on when it comes to her bullies.
The book lost me all together when it seems that no one with any kind of authority at the school sees this kind of bullying. It's also hard to read that her mother was so cold and calculating that she does nothing to help, and only adds to Ashley's grief when she bullies Ashley at home. The poor main character in this book is beaten mentally for so long she thinks this is just how life is going to be.
Would I suggest this book to you all in bloggyland? Yes. Yes if you like quick YA reads, yes, if you can agree and believe in some almost paranormal activity, yes if you remember what it was like to be bullied yourself. This book alludes to a happy ending. It makes you believe that Ashley is going to be alright. And that's all fine and dandy, but I still wanted more consequences for her aggressors. I wanted to know what happened to her mother. Was her mother remorseful? Did she finally realize how horrible she was to her daughter? And what ever happened to all the teachers and administrators who didn't ever see a thing? I feel like Salter could have wrote another hundred pages on just consequences and I would have happily read them. But that's just me. I wanted to see all those a-holes getting what they deserved after they just about killed Ashley, figuratively and literally.
I really did like Salter's style, and I look forward to reading more of her work. Please check out her author page, and check out her book if you are looking for a departure from your regular YA books about futuristic societies or vampires and werewolves. I'm not saying it's free of fantasy, but I am saying no one sparkles or has to fight against the capital. Not that there is anything wrong with that either.