I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.The Word for Yes by Claire Needell
on February 16th 2016
(208 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
After their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.
Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.
And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.
At once touching and raw, Claire Needell’s first novel is an honest look at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.
Warning: I am going to probably have a few spoilers in this review. I just… can’t do it without them.
Trigger warning: Book is largely focused on a date rape and its aftermath
I didn’t like this book and I kind of feel uncomfortable reviewing it. I feel weird about saying that a book with SUCH an important topic… felt pointless. I actually haven’t read a lot of books that involve date rape or anything similar, but I know there are powerful ones out there. How can something like this be breezed over, when it’s meant to be the point of the book?
Let me back up a little bit. The synopsis says that three sisters try to move on from the aftermath of something that happens at a party. I mean, sure, that happens? But it wasn’t what I was expecting. They all kind of hate each other and – spoiler alert – that doesn’t really change at the end. In fact, NOTHING changes at the end!
Melanie is raped at a party by a guy who is one of her best friends. This impacts her family and her in different ways, but no one is changed by what happened. By the end of it, Melanie kind of moves on and forgets it happens in some ways. She has ONE conversation with a guy she likes and just feels completely better. It’s like in the books where the main character’s depression is ~cured~ by a boy that comes into her life. At least in those books, the guy spends time with her and maybe they fall in love. Melanie’s acceptance happened in one conversation.
Her sister Erika ends up being the one to tell her mom and the high school counselor. She hates that Melanie gets mad at her and yet there’s one incredibly random scene where Erika calls her a slut. HUH? Where did that come from? She spent the whole book being upset by what happened and wanting to help her sister. I know some people have that terrible attitude towards sexual assault victims, but Erika didn’t until that one scene?! Why.
There were so many characters and they all were so weirdly half-involved. No one was necessary and everyone blended together. Even the main characters! Jan was in college. Melanie was the one who was assaulted. Erika was the other sister. Ok. The character who I liked and related to the most was Eliza, Jan’s apparently ~crazy feminist~ roommate. By the way, Jan assumed she was a lesbian because she was a feminist and involved in women’s issues around campus. AND at one point, one of the other sisters (truly don’t remember which one) mentions that her friend’s dad is “good-looking in the buff gay-guy way.” Um, okay, then.
The writing was weird and only added to the surface-level skimming of issues that the book had. It was so detached from the characters and their storylines. I didn’t feel anything for anyone, which makes ME feel like a bad person! This book is about date rape and no emotion was brought out of me? I truly don’t see how that’s possible. So many events happened in hindsight, too. I didn’t see what happened when the guy was called to the principals office; I was told about it afterwards.
Frankly, the ending was the worst part. In the midst of all this stuff, the girls’ parents get divorced and the dad moves to Hong Kong for a while. The book ends – okay obvious spoilers ahead – with their dad coming home from China. Melanie asking for Chinese food. Melanie taking a shower and thinking about how she loves her dad. She has a conversation (before her dad gets home) with the guy, comes home and sees her dad, and feels better about everything somehow. I just… don’t get it. There was no resolution or growth or closure. So anticlimactic, I kind of sat there dumbfounded for a few minutes.
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