The Word Game: a novel by Steena Holmes. Seattle:Lake Union, 2015. 215 pages ****
There comes a time in every mother's life when she is faced with the choice of letting a child attend an event outside of her sight and control. Alyson Wood, based on her life experiences, agonizes over letting her daughter Lyla attend a sleepover at her cousin's house. With her Aunt and Uncle as chaperones, Lyla should be safe and be able to enjoy herself. When Lyla confides to her mother and admits to being uncomfortable by some of the actions of the other girls and especially her friend Keera, Alyson feels compelled to share the information with her sister and her mother, not realizing the impact to her family and the community. Is Alyson overreacting or are the girls lying about what was said?
Holmes tackles a sensitive subject and handles it well. I was immediately drawn into the story and wasn't initially clear as to who the bad guy is and whether there is going to be a surprise twist to the plot. What could have been an innocuous story about different parenting methods instead becomes a compelling story about secrets, deniability and family dynamics. Not an easy story to tell and to read, but once started, impossible to put down.
I received a Reader's Copy from BookSparks and NetGalley for a review.
With a passion for story-telling, Steena Holmes took her dream of being a full-time writer and made it a reality, writing her first novel while working as a receptionist. She has written five books and won the National Indie Excellence Book Award in 2012 for her bestselling novel Finding Emma. Holmes currently lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs. When she's not traveling, she is either dreaming of a new adventure or writing about it.