Actual rating: 2.5 stars
I first caught sight of this book at the library when I randomly pulled it out of the shelf. The premise seemed promising enough but I didn't realize till I got home that this is a mystery novel. Now, I don't read a lot of these nowadays but I had this phase when I was still in sixth and seventh grades where I read one mystery book after the other. Perhaps it is because of that that I expected to read something more sophisticated ten years on, seeing how I used to read juvenile fiction back then. In terms of a plot with many twists and turns, "The S-Word" was lacking. In fact, by the time the resolution unfolded, I wondered what the whole point of the mystery slant was and I predicted more than half of the outcomes.
Anyway, genre aside, I do think that "The S-Word" makes for a good read for anyone, especially in high school. Bullying is a very serious issue and when it pushes people over the edge, to the point of suicide, we really need to ask ourselves if we could have handled certain situations differently. In Angie's exploration of the events that unfolded prior to her best friend's suicide, it becomes evident that bullying was a major contributor. Pitcher showed though that things are a lot more complicated than straight-up bullying and also showed how Angie's ex-boyfriend, Drake, factored in when he apparently cheated on Angie with Lizzie. Even though some parts were predictable, there were multiple layers for the reader to uncover and various aspects of the different characters to explore.
What didn't make all that much sense to me though was Angie's emotional detachment towards Lizzie's diary entries when photocopies surfaced in people's lockers. That regret that she claimed to experience as a result of the things she found out when it was already too late didn't come through enough. She blamed herself for not supporting Lizzie when she was hurt but occasionally that seemed forced, especially amidst her preoccupation with finding out who was responsible for defacing lockers, cars, etc around school. As important as it was to her to find the culprit, she completely forgot to figure out why Lizzie took her own life. Coupled with her insistence towards the end that people should never forget Lizzie, the flow of the story was somewhat fragmented.Review also available here