Author: Aimee L. Salter
Published: July 29th, 2014 (Alloy Entertainment) (Originally published November 4th, 2013)
Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Magical Realism, High School, Psychology, Bullying, Romance
Source: I received an E-ARC via Netgalley. This is no way affects this review.
Rating: Five stars
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.
Cover Thoughts: I like that the cover is simple and reflects the basic idea of the book.
First Line: As the psychiatrist enters the room, he offers me a patronizing smile.
Unrequited love is always a great start. Even though I feel really sorry for Ashley.
What do I even say about Every Ugly Word, the book that broke my heart? When I began reading Every Ugly Word, I instantly had flashbacks of the movies Read It and Weep and 13 Going on 30, both movies I really like. I loved Every Ugly Word so much. As I read this, I made several Goodreads statuses, the majority of them freaking out over what was going on. As well as how annoying everyone except Ashley was to me. Who wouldn’t love to have an older self give them advice? I know I would. I would love to know where I’m going to be ten years from now.
Of course, even though Ashley asks her Older Self for advice, she doesn’t tell Ashley all that she wants to know. In addition to that, Ashley also thinks her Older Self is keeping a certain something from her. I really liked that Ashley’s Older Self was 23 because that’s how old I am now so I just that was cool. I know I went through a lot of life changes when I was sixteen and it would have been great to have a Older self to talk to.
Ashley’s relationship with her Older Self is interesting. Her Older Self is really the only one she trusts except Matt and even that is diminishing because she thinks her Older Self is keeping something from her. i thought it was unique how Ashley talked to her Older Self but it had to be done in a mirror only. The Older Self in the mirror gave Every Ugly Word a sense of magical realism which I really liked even if I had to suspend my belief a little bit at times. While her Older Self does give her advice, Ashley isn’t always so quick to take it, if she takes it at all. This gets her into some situations that aren’t very good.
I really liked the Older Self. At times it was annoying that she didn’t just TELL Ashley what was going on or why she said certain things, but there are reasons for everything. I like how her Older Self really cared about her in a way that no one else in her life did. That sounds really weird because it IS herself, but I just loved the sort of friendship the two had with each other.
What I loved most about Every Ugly Word is how original the premise is. Is Ashley mentally ill? Does she really see her older self in the mirror? The narration was unique because it’s entirely told as a relay between Ashley and her therapist. We then find out that she’s actually relaying the events of the aforementioned incident. I found the therapy sessions to be really interesting
. I liked how the therapist got deep into Ashley’s feelings, explaining why she may have felt a certain way or why she thought of herself so lowly. As Every Ugly Word flipped back and forth between present time and the therapy sessions, I kept trying to figure out what exactly was going on. I like that it wasn’t spelled out what was really real. In Every Ugly Word, we don’t find out what age Ashley is in therapy until the end, I liked this because I kept making guesses about when it was occurring.
I loved that in the therapy scenes, the therapist used a lot of psychology terms that I remembered from college classes. I liked seeing him analyze Ashley and how what she went through affected her. One of my favorite terms he used was self fulfilling prophecy about how Ashley was so low because people thought of her as low and she didn’t expect any better. Because her mother treated her badly, she was bullied and she didn’t have Matt’s affections, she didn’t think highly of herself at all. She also didn’t try to do any better because of how people already thought of her.
I was intrigued in what Ashley was talking about to the therapist. The therapy session does lead somewhere, to a specific incident and it was really interesting trying to figure out what this incident was. I know I was going crazy over not knowing. It was also interesting to see what Ashley was in therapy because when we read Every Ugly Word, we don’t exactly know. I knew it wasn’t the 16 year old Ashley because it talks about the past. I like how I didn’t exactly know what Ashley was dealing with, whether she was really mentally ill or if she actually did have an older self who gave her advice.
Ashley was an extremely relatable character. Being bullied in high school myself, I could definitely relate to the pain she felt. I knew how it was to just struggle to get through each day. To try to avoid people. To feel so low about myself that self-worth was nonexistent. This was my life for the first two years of high school and the previous four years to a lesser extent. I was very sympathetic towards her. When she explained all the bullying my heart just broke. It was even worse when Matt, who was supposed to be her best friend, chose those people over her. Matt really ticked me off for this reason because I couldn’t process why he would believe them over her. Not to mention he dated a girl who made Ashley’s life hell and he was clueless to it all despite her telling him! I just don’t understand what kind of friend does that? Who would be friends with someone, let alone more than that, with someone that hurts their best friend?
I was also upset when Matt would pressure Ashley to hang out with them, blaming her for why they didn’t like her. Matt was definitely a flawed character. He made mistakes, he chose his friends over her, he didn’t believe her when t came to certain things and he pushed her to hang out with people that didn’t like her at all. Matt was definitely a flawed character this also made him very realistic though. He made mistakes but he does come through a couple times for Ashley.
The bullying in Every Ugly Word was so well done. I felt such sympathy for Ashley for dealing with the crap going on at her school and how she was treated. Her classmates were evil and I never understood why they treated Ashley the way they did. At the end of the day, there was no reason for it. Ashley didn’t do anything wrong, she didn’t deserve it. It was so sad watching her go through her classmates abuse. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also verbally abused at home by her mother. Her mom annoyed me so much, Ashley was always just being over-dramatic according to her and only worried about ruining her image.
I could really relate to how Ashley felt, alone, isolated, worthless, etc. Those were all things I’ve felt and to know someone else feels that way, even fictionally, is just horrible. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at fictional characters than I was with her classmates. They were ruthless and some of the things they did were just so out of line. The self-loathing she felt was just a really spot on representation of how much affect people’s words and actions do have on others.
Thankfully, Ashley has art to turn to and I loved that. Art is how she gets everything out, so I was glad she had some kind of coping technique to use. I just want to thank Aimee for writing about these topics. Bullying is so prevalent in middle school and high school. The amount of depth I found in Every Ugly Word is never-ending.
I adored the ending of Every Ugly Word. It was hard to stop reading and I just had to know what was going on. At times I didn’t even know what was happening. I loved the overall message of this and how strong a person Ashley is despite not standing up for herself. The fact that she just took all the crap she went through every day, really got to me. I would definitely recommend Every Ugly Word.
Every Ugly Word showed a side of high school that’s not often seen in fiction. I loved the rawness of what Ashley went through. It was really interesting to read about her and her Older Self as well. The touch of romance in Every Ugly Word was also interesting and not overbearing. I like that the biggest plot was Ashley learning to love herself.
~Do I Recommend?~
Fans of magical realism
Books involving psychology
Fans of 13 Going on 30 (Movie)
Fans of Read It and Weep (Movie)
“Because this isn’t the movies, Doc. In the real world, when a seventeen-year-old guy gets a love letter from his best friend, he doesn’t suddenly decide to love her back. He runs screaming.”
“I don’t know. Girls are just . . . weird,” Matt grumbled. “You’re ready to forgive Dex at the drop of the hat, but you’re pissy with me because I don’t want you to get hurt. Karyn’s annoyed because I took you home last night, even though she told me to. And Mom’s mad because I’m not talking to Dad. But you all smile and tell me everything’s fine. What is it with you? Why are you mad all the time and pretending you aren’t?”
“About how guys and girls can’t ever really be just friends. I mean, how many times do I make friends with girls just to see if I want to date them?”
“You can’t control how other people hurt you, Ashley. But you can control how you hurt yourself.”
“I believe that human beings have a tendency to live up to expectations: what we expect of ourselves, what we believe others expect of us. I believe we all fit our lives to those patterns. And I wonder if that hasn’t been part of your problem. You make choices based on how you perceive others expect you to behave. You—perhaps subconsciously—draw their attention to your flaws.”
“People you love should always be more important than people who judge you.”
Their cruelty says a lot more about them than it does about you.
You just have to. If you push through this, you’ll show them. You’ll show them you didn’t deserve this.
Sometimes people aren’t as good as they look. Just because you want to believe they care doesn’t mean they actually do.
Our parents mold us, whether they mean to or not. Your mother convinced you that you were inadequate, that you lacked the necessary value.