The Word Game

The Word Game - Steena Holmes
There is a fear involved.  A fear that turns into a knot in the pit of your stomach.  And in that knot, that tortured piece of your soul, there is a secret that will seep into your veins like a poison. 
There is no easy way to tell a secret.  It’s actually easier to deny it.  It’s easier to just keep breathing, keep ignoring that knot, just put one foot in front of the other.  Keep moving.  Pretend that the innocence, the purity, was not torn away unjustly. Just keep it a secret. 
It’s these secrets that Steena Holmes has turned into the reality of the Wilhem family in her latest novel, Word Games.  This is a story we’ve all heard, and sadly – it’s a story far too many of us have lived.  Word Games centers around Aly, an overprotective (helicopter, if you will) mother, and Keera, her niece.  Aly allows her daughter to attend her very first sleepover with some friends, including Keera. 
While the party was coed, it was also moderately supervised.  Kids, however, will be kids.  And that evening, there were whispered confessions and shared secrets that sparked a chain of events that changed the lives of many. 
The topic of sexual abuse is sadly, still taboo, but Holmes tackled it with grace and sensitivity.  In that sense, this novel definitely hit the mark.  There are, unfortunately, too many places where this story falls short. 
There are too many moments in this novel when the opportunity for emotion and detail is completely ignored.  The writing is impeccable and very endearing, which is no surprise coming from Holmes.  The story flows easily, though incredibly predictable.  It almost flows too easily, too quickly, that it is difficult to really get to know the characters.  It was difficult to really feel for the victim in the story, because the reader barely understands her, rarely hears her speak and never sees her thoughts.
It is a very commendable task that Holmes took on in this one, but she sadly falls short.  Is it possible that we will get a part two like Holmes previously did with Emma?  I sure hope so, and I hope she takes her time telling that story.