02 February 2011

Willow by 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.

  • Definitely not for the faint of heart.  Willow’s off-handed treatment of her cutting was heart-wrenching to read.  Her mentality was that why shouldn’t she punish herself?  While the whole thing was tinged with the same dark cloud, there were some lines that just popped out at me and slowly broke me down.
  • It was for that reason that I had a great amount of sympathy for Willow.  It was so easy to get into her head and to follow her train of thought.  For once, I had that experience (multiples times, actually), where I said, “Hey, I do that too!” or “Hey, I think that way too!”  It really deepened my connection to this book and in that respect, it made it much easier for me to read it and comprehend it, though I’ve never had such an experience myself.
  • Guy was awesome!  This guy had a lot of character and he seemed very real.  Julia Hoban presented him in a very subtle way, not forcing him on you or telling you he was a certain way, just letting you build up your own opinions and imaginings.  I liked his reaction to Willow’s life and how he never came off cliché to me—okay, with the exception of a few times.
  • I sometimes found the dialogue difficult to follow.  I’d lose track of who was talking and I’d backtrack several times, trying to pick up the conversation again.  It detracted from the story a bit because a few spots could have been improved.  More and more I’ve been noticing word usage and by rearranging the sentence just a little bit, you can really emphasize an emotion.  This is why, in some ways, I was really impressed with Julia Hoban’s writing because scarcity can give off a lot of emotion as well.
  • I thought the third person narrative was an interesting choice.  It really through me for a loop when I first picked it up and it took some readjustment on my part so that I could move on with the story.  I usually don’t see books in a contemporary setting—and especially those that deal with intense emotional issues—that are told in a third person narrative.  Still, I thought it turned out wonderfully in the end.
  • Oh my goodness.  The end!  (Not the last scene, but close to it.) I couldn’t help laughing—it was so hokey!  But in a good way.  I can’t really say a lot without being spoiler-y, but really, I think it was fitting because it was so lighthearted and corny.
  • I also really liked how the amount of dashes above the chapter title decreased as the book went on.  Once I figured out that it was, in fact, shrinking in number, I was really impressed.  Very cool.
  • I can’t wait to own my own copy.  It was heart-wrenching and almost made me get a little teary-eyed in some places (I’m very proud when it comes to crying—I don’t like crying over books and/or movies—so saying that I almost got a little teary-eyed is an impressive feat on the book’s part).   This is definitely a book I'll be rereading.
  • I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Sarah Dessen, Melina Marchetta, John Green, or Laurie Halse Anderson.
Book Info:
  • pages – paperback, 329
  • published – April 2009
  • publisher – Penguin Young Readers Group
  • genre – realistic fiction (contemporary)
  • received via – library
  • rating - 5/5