- Title: Every Ugly Word
- Author: Aimee L. Salter
- ISBN13: 9781254738590
- Series: Stand Alone
- Published: July 17th 2014 by Mark My Words Publicity
- Format: eARC
- Genre: YA
- Source: Publisher
- Rating: A
Aimee L. Salter’s Every Ugly Word is what Bully by Penelope Douglas should have been if it didn’t drown in a miasma of New Adult tropes. More realistic than Bully and less fantastic than The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Every Ugly Word is a flawless work. Even if you weren’t the victim of a bully at some point Salter communicates the horror and helplessness of the situation viscerally and uncompromisingly.
Every Ugly Word is an edge of your seat read, the reader is seized and you find yourself immersed completely into Ashley’s tormented life. We have all had moments in our lives where our subconscious is screaming “NO!” and yet we go ahead against our better judgement and do something half cocked damning the consequences. Ashley finds herself ignoring not only her better judgement but that of her older wiser self as well. When the seventeen year old looks in the mirror reflected back is herself six years hence.
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.
Ashley’s only ally is Matt, her life long friend whom she loves without reservation but even with him she disguises the depth of the harassment that she is subjected to. If the burden of her feelings for Matt weren’t bad enough she is devastated when he begins dating one of her tormentors.
I am sure we all at one time or another have pondered what we would do if we could go back for a “do over”. What was particularly compelling about Every Ugly Word was the exploration of that possibility, however I doubt that when we imagined that do over that the idea your younger self might not comply was not part of the scenario.
Throughout the story we question Ashley’s sanity, is the older Ashley that appears in the mirror simply a manifestation of the stress that Ashley is under? This dual perspective was particularly effective in portraying the severity of torment that Ashley is subjected to.
“Bullying is not about anger . It is not a conflict to be resolved, it’s about contempt –a powerful feeling of dislike toward someone considered to be worthless, inferior or undeserving of respect. Contempt comes with three apparent psycho-logical advantages that allow kids to harm others without feeling empathy, compassion or shame. These are: a sense of entitlement, that they have the right to hurt or control others, an intolerance towards difference, and a freedom to exclude, bar, isolate and segregate others” (Barbara Coloroso “The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander)
Ultimately Every Ugly Word is a fascinating tale that expresses perfectly the horror of bullying while seamlessly blending an engrossing story that realistically portrays an issue that is so rampant without turning into an idealistic exploration of young love instead you journey with Ashley to find herself. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.