Review: The Word For Yes by Claire Needell

Friday, January 15, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 16th, 2016
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Source: ARC from Miss Print's ARC Adoption
Pages: 208

Summary (from Goodreads):

After their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.

Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.

And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.

At once touching and raw, Claire Needell’s first novel is an honest look at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.

I was really excited for this book, but was actually pretty disappointed by it. From what I knew about this book before I picked it up, it was a book about rape culture and had the point of view of the rapist in it. I found that to be really interesting and knew I had to read it. I have read several other books this past year about rape culture that I really enjoyed and found to be powerful books. I'm no expert on the subject, but I thought this one just missed the mark.

Jan, Erika, and Melanie are sisters. Their mom just basically kicked their dad out and he is off to Hong Kong to work on his new book. Their mom works for a fashion magazine and is often off at business meetings or other work related things. Jan is off at her first year at college and it seems like Erika and Melanie are always off at parties/friend's houses or making rude comments to each other.

Jan is the oldest sister. She has just started her first semester at Brown college, I think. She starts off fairly sheltered and kind of judgmental, but really finds herself in college when she makes real friends and finds that things that she thought mattered before really don't matter now. She was probably my favorite character and the only character in this book that I felt had any growth at all in this book. I really felt like her point of view in this story was pointless though. It doesn't feel to me like it adds anything whatsoever.

Erika is the middle sister. Her point of view felt incredibly juvenile to me. I feel like there is probably a reason for that, but I never picked up on what it would have been while reading the book. She is really pretty and tall and has done some modeling. She's also really smart and into math and science. In the book everyone acts like she doesn't know how to act around people, but I guess I thought she acted fine around people????

Melanie is the youngest sister. She is a giant brat, spoiled, angry, rude, generally horrible. I hated her. Throughout this entire book, she is constantly going on and on about how much she despises Erika. I really don't even think she had a reason? It's been a couple days since I finished the book, but I don't remember any good reason she had to hate her sister so much. She literally never had anything nice to say to her or about her. Not once. Something horrible happens to her and her plan is to just pretend like it never happened and avoid the person who wronged her. But that goes out the window when Erika tells the school counselor about it, which is probably the only reason that she had to hate her. I don't think that she ever manages any healing in this book at all. At the end she is still just a horrible, angry little girl that I wanted to slap.

This book also featured the point of view of the rapist. His perspective is only featured twice. Once during the act and once quite a bit later on when he realizes how big of a pile literally everyone thinks he is. I thought that reading his perspective would be something different and interesting, but I thought that these parts were essentially pointless as well.

Like I said, I really don't think that any of the characters had any growth whatsoever. Except Jan. She's probably the realest character in this whole book. The only one that I could find myself able to relate to in any way at all.

The writing in this book was really....... vague? I don't know if that's the best word to describe it, but whatever it was, I didn't care for it. I don't feel like anything was really resolved. The way I interpreted this book while reading, I feel like at the end, you could basically just go back to the beginning and start over for how much resolution I found to be in it.

I didn't feel like ANYTHING happened in this book. It's basically just a story that follows these three sisters through the six months after their father gets kicked out of their house. Jan is finding herself at college, Erika is being generally clueless and Melanie is being horrible. There is like ONE thing that happens in this book at all.

I really don't even know what to say. I didn't hate this book, but I really didn't like it either. It completely let me down and I was really excited that I actually got my hands on this one early.

Overall, I personally wouldn't recommend this book. If you want to read a book on rape culture, read All The Rage by Courtney Summers or What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. If you're SUPER curious about this book, well, it's short. You won't waste that much of your time.


  1. Ooohhh, to be honest, that synopsis doesn't sound appealing to me at all! Of course, I tend to stay away from these types anyway. It's good that it's short! But I'm staying away lololol. Great review, Cyra!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I really wanted to like this one! I was so disappointed! I don't blame you for staying away! Glad I didn't have to wait til I actually had to buy this book!


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