FOUR-LETTER WORD by Christa Desir


Age Range: 14 & up
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The new girl in town introduces seven teens to a high-stakes game that threatens to destroy their friendships and relationships, but none of them can seem to quit playing.

Chloe Sanders isn’t prepared to become the “Other Chloe” when Chloe Donnelly transfers to her high school in Grinnell, Iowa, but Sanders and her friends make room in their circle for the confident, worldly new student. Soon after, Donnelly introduces them to an emotionally extreme version of capture the flag called Gestapo. The game makes for a fascinating plot device but unfortunately becomes the most interesting part of the story. Sanders’ first-person narrative results in a superficial depiction of other characters and relies excessively on her accidental discoveries to keep readers informed. Major characters are white apart from Sanders’ classmate and crush Mateo, who is Mexican-American. To her credit, Desir (Love Blind, 2016, etc.) openly and explicitly includes often taboo but important teen subjects such as sex and sexual orientation. The big reveal at the end of this lengthy book resolves both the plot and character motivation but may leave readers feeling let down and confused.

Though it had potential with its creative plot device and honesty about tough subjects, the long build-up to the hurried, head-scratching ending makes this a disappointing read. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 15th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4814-9737-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2018


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