Willow by Julia Hoban
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction
NARRATOR: Kim Ulrich
SYNOPSIS: Willow was the driver in the accident that resulted in the death of both of her parents, leaving her orphaned and living with her brother, sister-in-law, and their 6 month old baby, Isabella. Dealing with the guilt and grief of the loss of her parents is difficult, so difficult in fact that Willow has taken to deflecting the emotional pain into physical pain by using razors to cut herself. It isn’t until one day while working at the college library that she runs into this random guy, Guy, who accidentally stumbles upon her secret, that even the thought of attempting to deal with this pain and problem even crosses Willow’s mind.
REVIEW: This is such a difficult subject, and this book does it so incredibly well that I would suspect that Julia Hoban may have some experience in this topic. Even though this book is told from the third person, Willow’s voice is so very real and believable, right down to how she was interpreting how her brother was feeling and what he was thinking. Really, every single character in this book was awesome. Guy was so sweet and understanding where appropriate, and his outrage seemed completely real and appropriate as well.
As Willow was dealing with the accident, with her loss, with her problems, moving from step to step to step, Julia Hoban makes the reader feel as though her problems are theirs, making you almost understand how and why self mutilation does seem like an appropriate response to what is going on. There is a scene when Willow and a group of her friends cross paths with an anorexic girl, and the whole scene can be completely eye opening if you read it with an open mind and the realization that not everything is as they look on the outside. This actually seems to be an underlying theme to the entire book as well, the main topic and purpose is obvious, but I do think that Julia Hoban really pays tribute to the fact that people are very likely to look at things on the outside and made judgements without asking, or knowing or trying to understand from a different perspective. Willow does this a lot, with her friends at school, and her brother and sister-in-law. She just assumes she knows what they are thinking, and how they feel about her, when really she is way off.
WHAT I LOVED: How real this book was. This book was completely heart-wrenching and beautiful, and still has that semi-happy ending that even Julia Hoban points out, that everyone wants.
NOT SO MUCH: I sort of felt like the ending was rushed. That’s it.