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.
So this was a really unusual book. In my experience, books tend to either be about issues (e.g. bullying) or about supernatural stuff (e.g. communicating with your future self), but rarely about the two.
In Every Ugly Word, the author has managed to pull together two stories - one about her protagonist Ashley undergoing some pretty horrific bullying by literally everyone at her school (and for the most bizarre, non-reason, which I’ll come to later) and at the same time being able to converse with future (five years in the future) self and actually it works really well. I read this book in about a day and a half and found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it.
One of the things I liked most was the mystery aspect. Ashley’s older self knows what Ashley is going through and knows what is coming up next, but she’s frustratingly opaque and sparing with actual, solid advice. It was intensely annoying at times, but managed to hold my interest.
Ashley herself was a really likeable character. Despite being bullied every single day, she still manages to stick up for herself and have hopes and aspirations for the future. The evil bullies never completely manage to crush her spirit. Her friend Matt, on the other hand, could do one. I got that he was going through stuff of his own, but he was really blinkered and naive about the torment Ashley was going through.
This book shows bullying in a very positive light. Not positive as in bullying=good, obviously, but as in you can be bullied and not let them break you. You can be bullied but still have hopes and dreams for the future and even though it seems impossible, this too shall pass. It doesn’t, however, trivialise the effects of bullying.
The actual reason for the bullying (in eighth grade Ashley herself started a false rumour that she had slept with a friend of hers and this triggered off a spiral of slut-shaming) was a bit unbelievable, especially as she’d been popular prior to this incident, but I guess bullying can spring from anywhere, so who am I to judge?
All in all this was a really interesting, unique book. Totally recommended.