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Friday, March 12, 2010

Willow by Julia Hoban

Genre: Young Adult

April 2009

Pages: 329

Rating: 5 Crowns

Synopsis: Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy - one sensitive, soulful boy - discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl’s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy’s refusal to give up on her.

Willow is one of those books that you think about long after the last page has been turned. It's a beautifully written uplifting story of hope despite the sensitive subject matter of self-harm.

I couldn't put this book down, it spoke to me in more ways than one, not just because I have family friends with daughters who cut and not just because I've experienced the level of grief that leaves you wishing for complete numbness. It's the passage through and around grief, it's the love story, it's about the healing power of love, and it's the fact that Julia Hoban does an amazing job making this as 'real' as it is!

Willow is written in 3rd person, giving the reader unique insight into Willow’s psyche. Willow is overwhelmed with grief, guilt, and loneliness and she's convinced that her brother blames her for her parents' death, but my thoughts are; when you are in a world of emotional pain, the reality of what you believe and what 'is' becomes blurred. Willow doesn't cut to deal with her feelings, she cuts in order to not feel. Willow's need for numbness resonated in me.

It was like there was this extraordinary pain just knocking at the door of my consciousness - this overwhelming, extreme sensation, and I knew that if I let it in, I would go under.

... the physical pain that I was causing was better than the best drug the hospital had. It was just forcing everything else out. This pain, this physical pain, was flowing through my veins like heroin, and I was numb, immune to the rest of it, I couldn't feel anything but the pain, and I knew that I had found a way to save myself.

The changes in Willow's relationship with her brother David, brought about by the death of their parents, brought me to tears and the scenes where Willow watches her brother break down and sob, touched my heart. These were powerful scenes that rang true and showed much of Willow's personal journey. Guy is also wonderfully portrayed; he's sensitive and caring and he is the one person who really knows Willow, knows her secrets. Their blossoming romance is full of uncertainty, tenderness and hope.

Willow doesn't realise that she's crying until Guy takes his hand and reaches over to wipe away her tears. And she knows then that she was right about her brother, that it takes unbelievable strength to feel this kind of grief, and she doesn't know if she can handle it, because it really hurts, hurts more than the razor ever could.

Willow is raw and honest and revealing, it's a story of hope and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Empress Signature

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Alaine said...

I know how much you loved this book but I'm not sure it's one I could read.

Hannah said...

wow. I thought I wanted to read this book before your review, but now I'm even more interested.