The Word Game by Steena Holmes

The Word Game
Steena Holmes

Lake Union 2015 Hardback
ISBN 13-9781503949430

Steena Holmes’s poignant novel, “The Word Game,” focuses on the struggles an adult experiences when they suspect child sexual abuse and how the allegation is handled by the professionals.

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“. . . this book offers some valuable insight .”

In this fast-paced drama, “helicopter mother” Alyson Ward finally agrees her daughter can attend a sleep-over. She decides that since it is Alyson’s sister, Tricia, who is hosting, and because the girls are all friends and members of a dance group that had just completed a successful recital, it was a reward of sorts. 

After the sleep-over, Alyson floods her daughter with questions about the girls’ activities during the night. Lyla tells her one girl, Keera, introduced them to a game involving blindfolds and seductive dance movements that she learned from her stepfather. Alyson quickly concludes Keera was a victim of child abuse and in spite of protests that she was overreacting and could destroy many lives, Alyson contacts her friend, the school principal. 

As the investigation gets underway, Tricia questions if Alyson’s past is what is driving her to make the allegations. There were some family secrets, and their mother, Ida, begs Tricia, “Speak to your sister, get her to see what she’s done, and try to fix it, please.”

Though this book is dedicated to people who aim to protect children it also offers some basic parental guidance, such as checking children’s phone for secret apps, and of course, changes in behavior. Now that ours and our children’s lives are centered around all things digital, this book offers some valuable insight.


Reviewer: Kate Padilla