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The word game : a novel by Steena Holmes

The word game : a novel (edition 2015)

by Steena Holmes

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4313396,094 (3.09)None
Title:The word game : a novel
Authors:Steena Holmes
Info:Seattle [Washington] : Lake Union Publishing, [2015]
Collections:Your library

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The Word Game by Steena Holmes



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Fast read. I liked it, but the ending did feel a little rushed and,for me, left something to be desired. ( )
  jynxmecrazie | Jul 15, 2018 |
What words describe a parent’s relationship with a child or with a spouse? What words make promises while promising to break them? And what words betray a secret never to be told?

In The Word Game, words can’t be unsaid, and a mother once wounded can’t sit back and let another child be hurt. But are the words truth, exaggerations, lies of offense or defense, or simply confusion? Does a child try too hard to please mother, father or friend? And how do you balance protection against the people you’re going to hurt?

Author Steena Holmes does an excellent job of conveying the languages of teens and adults, the secrets behind their careful words, and the pain of not being believed. The Word Game offers a well-researched portrayal of how claims of sexual abuse are dealt with now and in the past. But it also offers a well-plotted story of friends caring for each other, the trust between adults, and the same trust shared between children. It’s a vivid haunting tale, well-told and highly recommended.

Disclosure: It was included in a deal. Lucky me. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | Oct 7, 2016 |
I received this book free from net galley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Alyson is a helicopter mom whose 10 year old daughter has been kept very sheltered. When Lyla is allowed to go to her very first sleepover at her cousin's house along with some other children, Alison's stomach is tied in knots at letting go even a little of the apron strings that connect her and her child. When Lyla comes home the next day, in her accounting of the events of the previous night are some things that just don't seem right and alarm bells go off in Alyson's head. She suspects that another girl, Keera has been sexually abused, but when she shares her concerns with her sister Tricia, who tells their mother, no one believes her and thinks she is overreacting. Tricia's daughter Katy was there, and swears Lyla is making things up and it became she said/he said as both women believe what their daughters have told them. But even if there's suspicion, can we just sit back and do nothing? Alyson, being a victim herself, just can't let it go. It angered me that Alyson had to keep defending her actions. Even her own mother and sister seemed to be more concerned about Alyson being wrong and embarrassing them.
While a lot of the story deals with Keera, there's a lot of family dynamics going on with Alyson, Tricia and their mother. At a time when Alyson needed her mother the most, Ida was not supportive and their relationship has been strained since. But there's a lot Alyson doesn't know. There are many secrets with this family that gradually are revealed in this story; things that should have been brought to light years ago.
This book is heartbreaking. From what I have read of Steena Holmes work so far, they are well written and very emotional. This one was no exception. A child should never have to go through what Keera experienced, the loss of innocence in a child is so tragic. At a time where they should only be girlfriends and Barbies, sleepovers and recess, Keera is thrown into a life she should never know.
I thought the author captured the emotional aspect quite well; with the subject matter, some parts were so difficult to read but I couldn't stop reading.
I like Alyson; even though she's wound a little too tightly, there should be more women like her that stick to their convictions and do the right thing if it isn't the popular thing. Even with the events in her past, she showed healing is possible, and she grew into a kind and loving person. I didn't care at all for Alyson and Tricia's mom Ida. Aside from the history of their rocky relationship,I didn't see a lot of actual caring or warmth.
I did find some parts a little repetitive, everyone was so concerned with "did anything actually happen" as opposed to doing something about it. And what's with everyone being cranky with Alison because "the decision should be made as a family". What does the family decision have to do with doing the right thing and helping Keera? Whether or not the family approves doesn't even come into play there.
This is a pretty short book but one that will pack a wallop, and not be quickly forgotten.
Thanks to net galley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review this book. ( )
  maggie1961 | May 1, 2016 |
Due to a traumatic event in her past, mom Alyson Ward keeps a protective and close watch over her ten-year-old daughter, Lyla. So when she allows Lyla to go on her first sleepover--to another friend's house--it's a big deal for Aly. Her fears are somewhat calmed by the fact that Lyla will be staying with Aly's sister Tricia and a group of her friends from dance class. All in all, it seems like a fun sleepover. But after Aly picks Lyla up, she has some troubling things to tell her Mom. Have Aly's worst fears come true after all?

This book was a quick read with a timely plot. It's always horrific to read about abuse, especially at it relates to children. In many ways, I would have enjoyed this book more if Aly was simply an overprotective parent and the story unfolded based on what happened at the sleepover, without involving Aly and Tricia's past. The novel unwinds from both their perspectives, as well as that of their mother, Ida, and their friend, Myah, who teaches the girls' dance class. For me, the messed up family tale involving Aly, Tricia, and Ida simply became too much after a while - the constant bickering and allusions "to things in the past." When all is revealed, it's shocking and horrible yes, but really just poorly overshadows what was otherwise a fairly well-written and interesting (albeit sad and horrific) story about the women's daughters.

Also, while we get a lot of arguing among the elder sisters and their mom, and whispers about their troublesome upbringing and childhood, there's no real character development, so I wound up feeling more annoyed by them (especially Tricia and her mom) versus sympathetic. It seems especially appalling that no one listens to Aly -- you'd think one would rather be safe than sorry when the subject is potential child abuse.

I'm giving this three stars for the story that focuses more on the younger generation and Myah, but feel the book needed to better deal with Alyson and Tricia's backstory and character development. ( )
  justacatandabook | Mar 9, 2016 |
From my blog

I couldn't stop reading this, I wanted to call in to work and say I had more important things to do, which was finishing this book. The story completely captured my attention. This is the perfect book for an advocate group on sexual abuse to read and discuss with each other. What I loved the best that Steena Holmes did was not make it emotionally driven to the point where you have to warn readers about possible triggers to sexual abuse as their were no descriptions. This wasn't about the act but more about what do you do with suspicions or when a young child repeats something and your unsure.

Alyson was my favourite character, she had a traumatic experience when she was young which makes her overprotective with her daughter Lyla. The unfortunate part is her family treat her with kid gloves and thinks that she exaggerates everything. Alyson has a great trusting relationship with her sister Tricia and so when Tricia has a huge sleepover with all the dance girls she says yes. Her son is allowed a friend also, so here starts the preteen drama, boys and girls in the house together, hmmmm.

The night goes well but when Lyla is telling her mom about it, she innocently says Keera, Alyson's sisters best friend daughter makes this statement. "She said she wanted to know if a boy's kisses are different than a man's."

Alyson's world stops, is history repeating itself. She is happy her daughter told and it wasn't her daughter involved but she goes into advocate mode. This is where the story is edge of your seat worthy until the end. We then see how adults deal with a suspicion of sexual abuse to a child. This would make for some great discussion. Secrets, lies, debates, anger, betrayal, all sorts of emotions start.

I also enjoyed that the grandparents were in the story. We were able to see how another generation dealt with accusations of sexual abuse, bringing family together but also keeping mouths shut. A huge question would be how do you protect the child, the parents, the abuser if they are innocent? It can wreck everyone's world but what if the accusations are true? Alyson is angry that everyone is not making critical fast decisions which trigger her past more.

Tricia is having coffee with her friend which is also the principle and makes a statement without thought. In my opinion she knew exactly what she was doing and I was proud that the principle went into risk of abuse mode.

This story is an important one for young adults to understand when secrets should be revealed, how adults should deal with possible abuse, generational decisions and how they affect adults and when adults need to be honest with children. Again, I didn't think the author underplayed the circumstances but made it readable for all, such an important topic can be to hard to read about but was perfectly executed in my opinion, it was powerful.

A great portray of friendships, marriage, culture pride, cousin connections, sibling relationships and a little bit of dance mom drama. A perfect character driven book, a loved the execution of this story which was told by the 3 adult, Alyson, Tricia and Myah, the mom of Keera. ( )
  marcejewels | Feb 10, 2016 |
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