Willow by Julia Hoban

What a powerful and yet torturous read!  I had heard about “cutting” but never understood it or even why an individual would consider it.  After reading Willow I have a better sense or rather.. I should say I know what it is now.  When I read the summary at the back of my book, I prepared myself for an emotional read, one where I was expecting to find myself crying at every turn of the page, but that just wasn’t the case.  I found that very much like Willow herself I didn’t let myself go until she did — very strange!  But I suspect that’s the way it was written – very clever now that I’m looking back – and I have no idea how the author accomplished this.

Willow is a sixteen year old who, on a rainy night while driving her parents home from dinner, lost control of the car.  The horrible accident left both of her parents dead.  She now lives with her brother, his wife and their young baby and the only way she knows how to deal with the pain is by cutting herself.  She meets Guy while working at the University library and somehow feels compelled and relieved to tell him everything.   I loved watching this relationship develop and how Willow eventually learned how to deal with her emotions again.

As I noted earlier I thought I was doomed from the beginning to be crying throughout this book – how can you not thinking about the premise of the story – a young girl just in the prime of her teens – loses both parents in a car accident while she was driving.  A great tear-jerker combination especially for someone like me – who now cries during those sad commercials!  But I’m amazed at how I didn’t shed a tear until Willow did – and I didn’t realize this until I started writing these thoughts.  Now I’m left wondering – was this somehow planned by the author?  Did writing the entire book – with the exception of the dialogues – in the third person create this effect?  I don’t know – but I am left wondering….

So as you can tell I enjoyed this book and yes I would recommend it – although I would only recommend it to the older teens – 16 years and over.


Favourite quote:

“I realized that what people say, the way they react, tells you more about them than it does anything else.  People may think that they’re offering you condolences or whatever you want to call it, but really, they’re letting you see what they’re all about.”           p. 196


Hoban, Julia.  (2009).  Willow. Toronto, ON:  Speak.

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