The Word Game, by Steena Holmes

12 Nov
Two of Five stars

Two of Five stars

I feel like maybe my standards are too high, because I haven’t really loved a book recently. Maybe I’m expecting too much. So even though I didn’t feel this book was really well written, I debated giving this book 3 or 4 stars anyway. Everyone else seems to love it. But I can’t. I just can’t. Through most of it I repeatedly wanted to throw my Kindle across the room. So if I’m going to honestly review this, I have to give it two stars.

The basis of the story: One mother has a sleepover with young kids, I think age 8-13, and she invites both boys and girls but they are supposed to sleep in separate areas of the house. Well, there are shenanigans because duh. But the host parents nip things in the bud quickly and the kids are sent home chastised but no harm done. Until one ten year old girl tells her mother that her friend (one of the kids in trouble) told her that her step-dad (who the mother is divorcing) has been having sex with her.

This is a great premise. From here the book should have delved into the accusations and investigation and prosecution – perhaps even while questioning whether the accusations were true. It IS an accusation by a child, and of course there are going to be questions. And because some of the other mothers have also been abused as children, and there were lots of family secrets as they grew up, the book could have dealt with the reprecussions of reliving those memories, and the different ways they managed their children because of their own pasts.

But instead, one mother wants to immediately inform the victim’s mother and the authorities, but… Every Single Other Mother is OUTRAGED that this mother would do such a thing. Everyone thinks that instead she should gather more evidence before telling anyone. But no one bothers to collect any evidence, they just let days go by and urge the mother to keep quiet. What more evidence is needed to at least inform the mother that her soon-to-be ex-husband might possibly be sexually abusing her daughter? At most they seem to want only to question the kids about what happened at the party. We already know nothing happened at the party because the hosts stepped in quickly, the issue is whether this child’s step-father is molesting her. Somehow they feel that telling is going to reflect on the host-mother of the party. And that then the child victim will be forever seen as “that girl”. Yes, it would be much better if we just let it go and allow her to be a secret victim of sexual abuse. MUCH better.

Am I missing something?? Why would you not immediately go to the child’s mother at the very least? It’s not even the child’s biological father, and the mother is already divorcing him – it’s not as if the news is going to break up a family, it’s only going to protect a young child. If it was only one whackadoodle mother who was protesting, then okay fine, I would buy that. But for every single adult in town to protest, even women who had been victims of sexual abuse themselves, I don’t buy this for one second and I couldn’t get past it in the story.

I was given this book by NetGalley to review, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m being too hard on this book. Everyone else seems to think it’s great. What am I missing?? But I was incensed the entire time I was reading, and if I had just bought this book on my own I would have had no issues saying exactly what I felt. So it’s only fair that I do that anyway. I feel like I’m the only voice of reason on GoodReads in reviewing this book, but if that’s how it has to be, I’ll have to live with it. I didn’t find anything of value in this one, and that’s just the truth.

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