Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review - The Word Game by Steena Holmes

Published November 2015

General Fiction

Book Summary

For overprotective parent Alyson Ward, any time her daughter, Lyla, is out of sight is reason to panic. So it’s a big step for her when she lets Lyla attend a sleepover at her cousin’s house. Comforted by the knowledge that her sister, Tricia, is the chaperone, Alyson does the one thing she never thought possible: she lets go and trusts that her daughter will be safe.
But Alyson’s sense of peace is short lived. When Lyla comes home the next morning, she reveals something that could tear apart not only their family but also the entire community. Now, Alyson and Tricia must confront their painful shared past as they come together to help a little girl who they fear might be harboring terrible secrets similar to their own. Will the sisters be strong enough to face their demons in order to protect the child, even if it means telling their most private truths?

My Review - 5

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.


  1. Wow, it sounds like that book packs a powerful punch! It's going on my wish list.

    1. I think you would enjoy this one Kathy, powerful indeed but with empathy and grace.

  2. I saw this book recently and didn't read the blurb, just noticed the cover - which is eye-catching to me. What a gripping story. I'll be looking for it.

    1. The cover is eye catching, I agree which got my attention when amazon recommended it. I would love to see other bloggers read and review it.

  3. Wow sounds like an intense read. I just added it to my tbr.

    Thanks for stopping by my Chinese New Year post. I'm guessing one of the reasons you like Back Bay is because it's close to Copley aka the library. ;) My is Dorchester mostly because it was easy to get Jamaican beef patties there.

  4. I am definitely going to put this book on my TBR list.

  5. I read this and found it very powerful, a must read.

  6. Your review has me interested, thanks for sharing

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