{Book Review} WillowWillow by Julia Hoban
Published by Dial Books on 2009
Genres: Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Family, Siblings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 329
Source: Purchased
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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.

My thoughts: This premise of this book is intense. I cannot even imagine the emotional turmoil Willow must have felt dealing not only the loss of both parents, but most importantly knowing that she was the cause of that loss. Instead of reaching out for help, Willow turns inward and to cutting which releases her emotional pain through physical pain.

“She looks down at her stomach, searching to find a likely place, and makes the first cut, waiting for the moment when the pain of the razor erases everything else.” p. 182

“I’ve taught myself, I’ve trained myself, not to feel anything except physical pain. I’m completely in control of that.” p.222

I never understood the concept of cutting and how someone could do that to themselves, but Hoban created a character that I sympathized with, I felt her pain and suffering and understood her need to cut.

I truly admired Guy. I think it’s extremely unusual and shows great character for a teenager to feel a responsibility towards the well being of someone they don’t know but to reach out to try to stop their destruction.

“But I can’t leave you like this! You can’t put me in this position!”

I haven’t put you in any position,” Willow says coldly. She quickens her steps. They’ve almost reached the park now.

“Yes you have,” Guy says stubbornly. “I can’t just forget about this. What if you –”

“I told you I’m not going to kill myself.”

“Is that supposed to make it all right?” p.71

Although Guy doesn’t truly understand her need to cut, his steadfast friendship becomes Willow’s savior.

As their relationship develops and Willow takes tentative steps towards friendship and trust Willow begins to heal. Communication is the key to healing and by shutting out her friends and family her self destruction was inevitable, but by learning to open up and share her feelings true healing begins.