(I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. My opinions haven’t been affected as a result.)
Kim’s first book was described as ‘a remarkable first novel’ by The Guardian, and when A Seven Letter Word landed on my doorstep, I was pretty excited about it. Whilst I hadn’t read Smart and I wasn’t sure what really drew me to this book, I was still pretty excited to receive it.
Finlay McIntosh can read, he can see fine, but he can’t speak as well as others; he has a stutter. Two years ago, his mother vanished, and since then his stutter has become worse. The only way that he can find to get these words out of his head is by writing long letters to his mother and by playing online Scrabble, especially in the face of bullies at school. Then he meets a new person online called Alex, and everything changes. Is it his mother trying to secretly contact him again, or is it something much more sinister?
This book is so clever in the way the plot has been thought out, and I think anyway would be able to realise that. If I came up to you and told you that this book is amazing, and it’s based largely around Scrabble, you may have a slightly negative reaction to it, and it may be a book you read ‘just to see if it works.’
But honestly, it works. It works brilliantly. It shouldn’t be a book you read to see if it works, it should be a book you read because it’s so clever and unique in the way it’s been written and the way it has been designed.
Like several other books, there aren’t many characters, and the plot isn’t that complicated. But it’s a book that makes you think nonetheless. There may not be many characters, but if that’s something you enjoy in a book rest assured it’s been compensated by the fact that the characters, especially Finlay, have so much detail behind them.
The story is told in chapters, like most other books, but some chapters have events that have occurred in the past to give you the backstory, and I think that’s a really nice touch to the book as well.
This book will stick with you for a while afterwards. There may be flaws, and you may find that the plot does take it’s time in certain places. Like any book, it may not be for everyone. But I urge you to read it anyway, just to experience first hand how unique this book really is.