Thursday, June 23, 2016

Every Ugly Word » Book Review

This review is my attempt to finally get through some of my Netgalley backlogs in the hopes that I can pull up my dismal feedback ratio to a reasonable level. I was supposed to review this more than a YEAR ago.

Let that sink in guys... and let the walk/write of shame, begin.

Every Ugly Word

This is a difficult book for me to describe, let alone review. I was just so surprised by how much it moved me. I thought it would be like many of the other contemporary YA books out there. Compelling enough, but lacking some fundamental depth. However, Every Ugly Word didn't pull any punches.

The novel starts off with Ashley, the main character, sitting in a psychiatrist's office at an inpatient mental facility. She is desperate to leave that day, and the only way to do so, is by recounting the events that led to her commitment in the hopes that the doctor would believe that she has recovered enough to go home. Every chapter begins with conversation and analysis with the doctor, followed by an episodic account of her life. This served the dual purpose of building tension within and across chapters while giving us information and background on our protagonist.

There is an element of magical realism within the story. Ashley can see an older version of herself in the mirror and has frequent conversations with her. Older Ashley tries to be a source of support for current Ashley, in the hopes that the younger Ashley would choose a different path and have a healthier outcome.

I was very intrigued by the author's choice to use that element in her story. I have been in outpatient therapy for several years for a variety of issues, one of them being trauma. In therapy, I have been frequently encouraged to 'talk to the little girl inside me'. It sounds wonky, I know. But it's done in an effort to help you be there for yourself through those past traumatic memories without having to rely on others, especially those who have been unsupportive in the past. I found the parallels between the aforementioned therapy technique and Ashley communicating with her older/younger self quite surprising. I wonder if the author had made that connection on purpose, or if it just happened to be a coincidence.

The romance in the book is also very realistic. Most contemporary YAs make the fatal mistake of introducing the concept that love conquers all, even trauma and mental illness. And nothing could be farther from the truth. In the beginning of the book, Ashley views Matt with love-blind glasses. But as the novel progresses, we see Ashley realizing that Matt is just as flawed as everyone else. She realizes that Matt can't fix her, and that sometimes there is nothing to fix. There is nothing to do but to just get through those terrible moments with whatever willpower there is left, and have hope for a better future.

There is a wonderful quote towards the end of the book that sums up what it's like to go through a horrific event and feel how different you are. How empty, yet hopeful.

"I was afraid because, even after everything I'd overcome, I still had holes. My dreams were coming true - but they weren't filling the gaps. I still felt... less than. I'd decided to keep fighting, keep searching for answers. Because as long as I did that, there would always be a chance my holes would heal. I could have hope. My gaps only became inevitable when I stopped believing they could be filled."

Every Ugly Word is free through Kindle Unlimited.


  1. That's so interesting how you picked up on how the magical realism element hearkened to a therapy technique. That would have gone over my head. However, my own therapy that I get for my anxiety disorder focuses on CBT, which also involves some "self-talk." Slowly, by increments, it's changed my life.

    In regards to NetGalley, I'm on the journey with you to boost my stats! Readers, expect lots of (late) galley reviews in the near future!!!

  2. RT @bookishpeach: Every Ugly Word » Book Review

  3. I'm not a huge fan of Contemporary so I can't say a lot about the romance, BUT I do know that YA books have this thing about romance where, "your first love is your only love" thing going on. As well as the whole "everyone is perfect" which is SO far from the truth! I like that this book DOESN'T show that because in the end it'll make it more relatable and it'll result in a lot more happier readers like us. <3

  4. Even though it may have been a while ago since you were meant to review this, at least you are getting to it now! It sounds like quite an interesting one and the cover really got to me. I think this is one I am going to try. Gonna go check it out further on Goodreads!

    My recent post:

  5. Oh, man. I so wish I can somehow make up my pathetic feedback rating. Unfortunately, I got behind years ago that I can no longer save it.

  6. I sometimes wish that YA books don't feel like they have to include a romance. My male students feel so turned off by them. Have you read THE MEMORY OF LIGHT? I wonder how it compares.

  7. It's slowly but surely going back up!

  8. Exactly! That's what I also truly appreciated about it. I'm glad we're on the same page! :P

  9. Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :).

  10. It might not be too late! I couldn't find a copy of one of my titles (online or in physical form), so I just told the publisher I couldn't review it and it still raised my feedback ratio!

  11. I understand that feeling. I love reading about platonic friendships, especially between boys and girls. No I haven't! I'll definitely look into it :). Thanks for visiting!

  12. RT @bookishpeach: Every Ugly Word » Book Review