Review of Every Ugly Word by Aimee L Salter


Review written by: Jessica C.

I used to think if I was popular, or if Matt loved me… that would do it. I thought it would close me up so I could feel whole…

Welcome to world and the mind of Ashley Watson. Each step in her teenage walk of life is one that so many of us can relate to in some form or fashion. The judgement, the internal struggles to feel accepted and wanted, the fending off of bullies. Every Ugly Word introduces the reader to the realism of that which is high school. The story breathes life into the emotional turmoil that each misfit endures. For Ashley Watson one mistake ends up being the catalyst for her entire time in high school being one of torture. A talented artist, Ashley finds herself so consumed with the ugly words around her and the opinions of others, she forgets to look within herself to see the true beauty within.  Ashley is so wrapped up with the cruelty of her class mates that she starts to believe that what they say is the truth, and in turn tears herself apart.

“Some things aren’t deep!!!”

“Yet those very things can have incredibly deep consequences.”

Thankfully, Ashley has the ability to see a bit of light through the darkness and pain. The light that is her future self as revealed in her own reflection in the mirror . Ashley’s future self is her conscience as much as her guide to a better life. Her glimpse into the future and her ‘future self’ guide her towards a path to hopefully correct the mistakes her ‘future self’ made. If only Ashley can believe that she is better than the ugly words she hears about herself.

“…just remember, no one’s perfect. But you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror the next morning. No regrets. Better to make the right choice than to hate yourself the next day. You know?”

Every Ugly Word is a book that so many of us can relate to. Each of us at some point of our lives has been in a dark place, or have felt so low we didn’t know if would be able to make it through. The story itself though was unique because it made Ashley’s struggles so easy to understand and relate to. Aimee L. Salter helps the reader realize that bullying doesn’t always come in the shape of other people… sometimes we become our own bullies. If we do not feel good enough, if we do not feel like we are wanted, loved, or accepted… we in turn can become our own bullies and we beat ourselves down and tear ourselves apart.

People you love should always be more important than people who judge you

The truth is I struggled at times with this book. At times I found the main character weak and unrealistic. Ashley in some ways seemed blind to what was around her and so willing to give up at each word that she took personal. Still, when I look back and think of myself as a teenager, Ashley’s reactions really don’t seem that bizarre or unreal. We are our own worst critics and sometimes our self judgement can bring our own ruin. There were times in the book I just wanted to give Ashley a reality check, to just step into the pages and shake her shoulders a bit. Even her future self seemed the epitome of moping and loss at times. Still I cannot be so judgemental because what we dislike so much in what we see of others is often what we dislike about ourselves.

What happens to Ashley is horrible. How she treats herself because of bullying is even worse. The book isn’t easy to stomach at times, but it needs to be read. I wouldn’t put it on my highest rated reads, but it is a book that should be handed out as a mandatory read in high school. For me Every Ugly Word isn’t just about overcoming bullies, it’s also about learning to love yourself at the hardest times. I have to be honest, if Ashley had been a real person and in my school I probably wouldn’t have been able to stand her… yet… I can’t be the one to judge. If anything Every Ugly Word teaches us that even we can be bullies to ourselves. Our actions can make us bleed or they can make us heal. Our words can cut or they can be just the balm we need.

In the end Every Ugly Word leaves the reader with food for thought. Actions and words can destroy or they can repair. Make your choice wisely.

…It isn’t what happens to you in your life that destroys you. It’s what you do about it…..

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