Saturday, October 18, 2014

Every Ugly Word by Aimee Salter

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categories: , Every Ugly Word
Author: Aimee Salter
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Pages: 257

Buy: Amazon
Rating: 5/5 stars 
Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year. I found interest in this book after discovering that there was magical realism in it. Ashley, our protagonist, is in therapy again. She has been to other therapists before, but none of them have managed to "help" her. Her current therapist wants her to retell the events which led to the 'incident' and Ashley desperately wants to do well on this session so that the therapist can let her out of the facility. But that won't be done so easily because she can see her 23-year-old self, whom she calls "Older Me" in mirrors. It's the truth, but let's be real; will this therapist -- will anyone ever believe that? 

To tell Ashley's story, flashback is used. Events happening inside the therapist's room are in present tense, while the happenings that led to the incident are in past tense. I found that helpful because it made keeping track with the storyline easier. What happens to Ashley is absolutely heartbreaking. There was a moment, while reading, that I stopped and asked if such cruelty was even real. I thought this book was pushing bullying to an entirely new level, but then I realized that all of the crap that Ashley dealt with was a reality that many teenagers faced. She's just so hurt that she isn't even bothered by the pain anymore. I wanted to stick myself inside the pages and wrap my arms around her protectively, because it was all too much for even myself to handle.

I kept wondering what the 'incident' was. Was it about Matt? Was it about Finn? Did someone really hurt her this time? The story wouldn't let me go. I felt like I had to be there for Ashley, to stand by her as she suffered through such cruel times. I also had to know what the heck really happened to Ashley. What thing could have been so damaging that she had to be taken to a psychiatric facility? But aside from that, I was intrigued by this Older self. I was interested to know what she knew about Ashley, and what exactly she was protecting her from.

I definitely felt my relationship with Ashley grow as the story progressed. A+ for that, Aimee Salter. And as for the other characters? Well, let's say I felt what I think the author wanted her readers to feel. I'll focus only on chosen characters. First, Matt: Ashley has a crush on him, and I don't blame her. But what stuck out for me for this guy was that he was flawed. Having a main character have a crush on someone flawed was a breath of fresh air for me. Second, Finn and Karyn: god, I hate them so much. I think it's hard to write characters that readers will truly despise, but it worked here. Third, Ash's mom: she's concerned for her kid and that's understandable, but I really, really wanted to slap her every time she spoke. Again, good job, Aimee Salter.

The story itself is beautiful. It excelled at many points: from how the events were arranged, to how the emotions of all the characters bled through the pages. Overall, it was the theme of this book that I fell in love with. It didn't just show bullying -- it made me feel the effects of bullying. Even though she dealt with terrible things, I felt like it was all necessary to show this sad reality, as well as to allow Ashley to grow into such a brave girl. The emotions in this book are so intense that it's magnificent. 

Every Ugly Word deserves five shiny gold stars because it truly is a well-written book that displays the ugly truth and turns it into something beautiful. I feel inspired reading this. I feel empowered because of Ashley. I think everyone should know Ashley Watson and find the strength that they might be searching for. This is, without a doubt, a great book.


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