Thursday, February 3, 2011

Justine's Thoughts: Willow by Julia Hoban

By Julia Hoban

Source: Library
Book Description (From Goodreads):

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.

A quote:

Well, sometimes I worry that my whole life will be based about what's comfortable and easy. I'll care too much about what makes me feel good to ever really reach for anything. And then I worry that even if I do, I won't succeed.



Any thoughts:

While the subject of cutting is sometimes hard to think about even for me, Julia Hoban has done an incredible job writing about a girl who is using it as a way to cope. The truth is bare and revealed. Everything is out in the open. Before, I had come across Willow with not much interest. But recently I’ve been reading meaningful books that have been strongly recommended, books that explained things I would have never thought of. Willow is definitely one of the great, thought-provoking ones. I was glad I gave it a try, as it truly did not disappoint.

The writing is different in third person. Almost always, writing in the third person sounds like a commentary, as if there is no feeling or connection with what’s going on. But Julia Hoban’s style -- to my relief -- makes it better. I’m glad that the point of view offers an insight into the question of Willow’s cutting. It certainly made the novel more real -- Willow, family relationships, the tragedy, grief and its ways of coping.

Guy is a guy you can fall in love with. He’s sensitive, he’s caring, he’s determined, he’s so kind. It’s obvious that he means good and he has a good influence on Willow. He is just who Willow needs. One thing that kept popping in my head, however, was his physical appearance. There was not much of a description of him, just that he had great arms due to rowing. And his voice came to me as a sort of small and annoying (although I tried imagining it sound deeper) because he likes to talk a lot. Despite that (and my strange imagination), he is perfect. He faces problems with a willingness to help Willow, and he forms a friend-lover relationship with her that I love.

The ending is a little comical, it actually did make me laugh out loud. It was surprising to me at first, given that the entire novel is serious and grievous. But I was actually glad. I needed a tiny boost from the heavy load of sadness that has enveloped me. Willow is not an easy read, but it really is worth it and uplifting in the end.

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