This was a story that dug down into my soul and made me remember the tortuous fear and doubt that comes along with bullying. Bullying has been recognized as a serious issue more recently, and even though it is taken more seriously, that doesn’t make it go away. Kids, teens, and adults from all walks of life have felt betrayed, hated on, and rejected at some point in their lives. Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter helped me conceptualize a new dimension of bullying that moved my soul and covered my body in goosebumps.
Even before I get into the amazing story, I have to commend the author for the creative writing style she used. She was able to create multiple dimensions to bullying rather then just a binary of good and bad. She helped the reader enter into a world that was frustrating, tempting, and painfully realistic at times. It is definitely one of the stories you go back to read again to keep you hopeful, and maybe also one you pass along.
This refreshing novel is about Ashley, a young girl in high school who goes through her days either being picked on or completely invisible to her peers. The only sense of comfort she can access is through her paintbrush and empty canvas. Sometimes hanging out with her friend Matt also puts her at ease, but his popularity usually adds tension to their relationship. Ashley wasn’t always a lonely girl: she used to be best friends with the girls who are currently the reason she has changed her number four times. It all started with a lie that developed into a rumor that left Ashley alone, confused, and having a hard time differentiating what was right and wrong.
It is during this time Ashley starts to rely on herself and only herself to keep moving forward, despite losing everything. She starts high school in a state of confusion, but she is able to get through her daily struggles with a special companion she has found within herself. She doesn’t tell anybody about this friend because nobody would understand her. Nonetheless, this friend has become a guiding light for her, and she is taking more risks at school and shining through because of it.
This change doesn’t last long. In a moment’s notice, this new outlook Ashley gained in life comes crashing down to her feet. She is left alone and deserted, to say the least. Everybody including herself has abandoned her and she doesn’t know how to keep moving. She no longer sees herself as a strong girl who will grow up to be an amazing woman, but as a weak person who cannot stand up for herself.
What happens next cannot be summarized, cannot be explained, but can only be read in Every Ugly Word. A new perspective on how someone can become their own savior in the ashes of their own demise shines through the pages. Destiny might be triggered when you are born, but the choices you make and, more importantly, the ones you don’t, constantly redefine your destiny.
Publication: July 2014