Willow – Julia Hoban
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.
Am I last reviewer on the block to feature this? Probably…
I know I took a long time picking this up; simply because I knew the sensitive nature of the subject matter required me to clear my mind of almost anything else. It’s too starkly real to be marred by any thoughts of imaginary lands and fixable problems. Plus it hits a little close to home.
I guess I’m no newbie to the world of cutting, having seen both family members and close friends go through it. Though they all had their own reasoning and their own difficulties to cope with, this is never an easy thing to see for us non-cutters. To watch people you care about inflict pain upon themselves and mutilate themselves as a form of escape is pretty much the worst form of torture you can imagine. Knowing that nothing you can say or do can end it is even worse. Hence, I could get inside Guy’s head much easier than I could Willow’s.
It’s not a beautiful story, exactly, but it’s got a great deal of depth to it. It’s about a guy who tries to save a girl from herself and her pain, against his own good judgment. It’s about a brother and sister who misunderstand each other and grieve alone rather than trying to fix each other. But above all, it’s the story of Willow – a girl who blames herself for her parents’ deaths and isolates herself from the world to grieve, not realizing that it’s the worst thing she can do to herself.
I guess there’s no real way to explain why the book should be read, except that it’s a powerful story, with a disturbing but real subject matter. I strongly believe that all young girls should read this one, and discuss it with someone older. Because truthfully grief happens to everyone sooner or later, and if nothing else, this book can help figure out how to cope. Or warn you how not to. A definite must-read.