Aimee L. Salter Alloy Entertainment Published 29th July 2014 This book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Every Ugly Word.
Every Ugly Word.
I just – I have no words. I’m going to try, but I can’t guarantee I’m going to be coherent.
Ashley Watson has been bullied and tormented by the people who used to be her friends since she was thirteen. Walking down the halls of her high school invites a slew of aggressive comments and shoves. On top of that she has a mother who is convinced that it’s Ashley’s fault she is a victim. Her only saving grace is her best friend Matt, but she can’t make him fall in love with her. And every time she looks in the mirror, she sees herself from the future – Older Me, who has already been through it all. Her older self gently encourages Ashley and tries to give her advice, while hiding a secret about something devastating that is about to happen.
I was never bullied, so I don’t have that kind of connection with this book. But as I was reading Ashley’s story, I could feel it all as if I had been there. I felt anxious, every time she walked into a room where her tormentors were. My heart was pounding and I was so worried about what was going to happen to her that I couldn’t put the book down all night. I had to finish, I had to know if she was going to be okay. My heart broke for her, especially when her vile mother said ANYTHING and Matt failed her, over and over. The poor girl just couldn’t catch a break and was surrounded by absolutely horrible people and my heart ached because there was no one there for her.
I loved the layers of this story that were added with the idea of her Older Self. I wondered about how it would work, because if Ashley’s Older Self also had an Older Self, did they exist in different timelines? Obviously there’s not five or six (or more) Ashleys all at different stages in life in the same world, so I assume different timelines. Is it a never ending cycle? It seemed to be. At what point, though, does the younger self became the Older Self? This wasn’t really explored, but I wonder if that’s because it didn’t really happen? Ashley is an unreliable narrator and at times I did question her sanity and possibly the use of the mirror and the idea of an Older Self as a coping mechanism for either depression or just to handle the bullies.
The characters in this novel were all extremely flawed – even Ashley and love-interest Matt. It’s easy to dislike the bullies and Ashley’s mother, but I found it hard to dislike Ashley and Matt even when I didn’t agree with their actions. I just wanted to shake Matt sometimes for being so oblivious and while Ashley is definitely being victimised and targeted, I wonder if there’s anything she could have done to avoid further torment. Maybe if she had a better support system of family and teachers, but there was nothing there for her. Her ability to endure is remarkable and I guess that all comes down to her art. I’m not an arty person but I can definitely appreciate it, and for Ashley it was a refuge, it was where she expressed herself and her fear.
I loved this novel and have just one complaint – that I cannot find a physical copy anywhere! I want this one for my bookshelf, even though it is painful to read it was heartbreakingly incredible.