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Friday, March 12, 2010

Julia Hoban - Guest Post

WILLOW is the story of a young woman whose parents are killed in a car accident, an accident in which she happened to be the driver. Because she is overwhelmed by guilt, and has no outlet for these emotions, she takes to cutting herself. That is the bare bones synopsis of WILLOW. But as bleak as that sounds, it is very much a story about healing, it is also a story that has helped many readers – parents and friends of cutters – put a human face on cutting, it is a story that has helped some people to understand why others might chose such a path, as incomprehensible as it might seem at first.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about cutting, the biggest stumbling block that friends and family have to overcome regarding cutting is that those who do it are suicidal, and that the cutting itself is practice for the “real thing,” but as my character Willow says cutting is NOT a dress rehearsal for suicide, it is something else entirely.

So what is cutting then? As counterintuitive as it sounds, cutting is actually an attempt to deal with pain, to manage pain, to control pain. Most often cutting occurs when a person is overwhelmed by emotional distress --- because they have no way to process this, they transmute the emotional into the physical, this in turn makes the cutter feel as if they are in charge of the pain, and in fact provides some false measure of relief from the emotions that they are trying to avoid.

The fact is that ALL of us have felt this kind of pain. We may not have taken to cutting as a way of dealing with that pain, but most of us have indulged in self destructive behaviors as a way of avoiding confronting feelings that otherwise would be too overwhelming. That is why, if we look beneath the surface, if we move beyond our first appalled reaction when we hear about a cutter, we realize that we are not so very different after all. That is also why I chose to write about cutting. I wanted to write a book for all of us with self destructive urges, I wanted my audience to follow a character from a place of self harm to a place of healing, and in doing so possibly confront their own damaging behaviors. I
needed to chose a behavior that would be like a slap in the face, something that would take my audience right to the gritty heart of the matter.

And people do seem to connect with WILLOW, they walk away from the book with a greater understanding and sympathy of the issue than they had before reading it! Although many approach the book with trepidation, they do in fact find that the character is sympathetic, that her method of avoiding her feelings – though far more dramatic and painful than anything they themselves have ever done, is something they can now understand. This is important, because, most unfortunately, cutting is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Is this because people are doing it more, or because more people are seeking treatment and it is being reported more? No one knows. But certainly awareness of the issue is on the rise. Parents are being faced with children who are cutters, friends and lovers are finding out that their closest companions are self injurers. It is important to tread gently when confronted with this issue, to not judge the cutter harshly or condemn them.

Of course any discussion of cutting (or any self destructive behavior) must also deal with recovery, with moving away from the damaging behavior. And this is really what WILLOW is about. As much as it is about cutting, it is about healing and hope. As one reader said it “The essential and uplifting message of WILLOW is that not every problem can be solves, but there is no bad situation that cannot be improved.” And that is a message that every cutter needs to learn.

By Julia Hoban, author of WILLOW, was released in paperback on February 23.

Thanks to Julia for joining us on Royal Reviews. If you'd like to win a copy of Willow, be a follower and leave a comment including your email address. US/Canada only. Winner announced March 28.


joder said...

This sounds like such a good book that could very well affect how a person understands this compulsion. The review made me really intrigued for this book and I'm really hoping to win it.

I'm a follower.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

fickle fan said...

I'm a follower and would love a chance to win a copy of the book. This book definitely touched a nerve for me, it touches some very sensitive issues that others don't!

rubs.escalona [at] gmail.comp

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in checking this book out ... As a recovered cutter and addict myself. It'd be interesting to see just how realistic the author could possibly have gotten.
JenniferMoore143 (@) gmail (.) com

tetewa said...

I've been hearing alot about this one and would like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com

Bookie said...

This is really a sensitive issue and I'm interested to see how the author handled it.


Hannah said...

I am so glad that I read this post! I've read multiple reviews on Willow, but had not noticed that any of the reviews mentioned cutting. I would love to give this book a chance.

hmsolbach @ yahoo.com

Thanks for the giveaway!

Misusedinnocence said...

I follow and would love to read this.


Falling Off The Shelf said...

I've heard so many good things about this book, please add me :)



Jenni @ Falling Off The Shelf.

Emmagan said...

I too have heard that this book is great, i would like to enter :)


Cindy W. said...

I so want to read this book. Please enter me into your giveaway. I am a follower.

Cindy W.