Mel, Saanvi, Cass and Ava all go to high school together. This may be the only thing they have in common.
Ava is the outsider, the less advantaged of the four and at first, she is an outcast. She wants so badly to belong, but can’t find a common denominator that links them, until a school teacher makes advances to one of the girls and Ava plots his demise.
Ava lives with her unwell sister and her mother in an unfinished housing estate. She loves her mother and sister but hates her life. She will do anything to be part of the group.
Saanvi fights against Ava joining their little exclusive group, but Mel is grateful to Ava for saving her from the unscrupulous teacher, so Saanvi tolerates their new friend.
The Spite Game, by Anna Snoekstra, is many things, including a little hard to follow at times. It tells a tale of four girls, growing into adulthood leaving a trail of bullying, hate, confusion and heartache behind them. Ava is the recipient of the bullying and as she grows into a young woman, she cannot move on from her high school days.
Bea, Ava’s sister, overcomes her debilitating illness and falls for a neighbour, Aiden, the father of Evan, who is around the same age as the four girls. Anna Snoekstra makes it clear early in her story that Evan has feelings for Ava, but his feelings are unnoticed by her. Nonetheless, they become close.
After a party at Mel’s ends in an ignominious act being performed on Ava, she stays closer to Bea and the boys. Bea tries to convince her sister that all will be forgotten and life will improve once the school year and Ava’s high school days conclude. Ava wants to believe her, but she sees her life as a tragic mess and plots to destroy Mel, Saanvi and Cass. She enlists Evan to help her without telling him the entire truth; he is smitten and will do anything for her.
Ava takes on a caring role for a neighbour’s terminally ill mother who earns her enough money to travel to Paris where Mel is studying acting. She is so consumed with hate and revenge that she stalks Mel, causing just enough disruption to leave her former school friend stressed and unable to pursue her acting career.
When Ava returns from Paris, she has one more of the ‘school friends’ to exact her revenge on. Although she realizes she has let her life become consumed with the same hate and disregard for respect of others, that her classmates had solicited on her, she cannot stop herself.
Although The Spite Game is slightly confusing in places, it gives a whole new meaning to the word revenge. The story will not be to everyone’s taste, but I recommend you keep reading to the last page.
“Everyone does bad things when no one is watching” is a line from the book. The last page shows just how true this can be.
The Spite Game, by Anna Snoekstra, is available in digital and printed editions from the publisher HQ Fiction.