by Julia Hoban
Willow is a cutter. Her parents were killed in a car accident while she was driving and she blames herself for their deaths. She lives with her brother and his wife and daughter now and she consistently feels that she is a burden that was forced upon them.
Everything changes when Willow meets Guy. He finds out that she’s a cutter and almost confronts her brother about it, but she persuades him that it will literally crush him to find out that she harms herself. So Guy sticks around. He hangs around the university library where she works (yet they’re both in high school) and keeps involving himself in her life. At first, she pushes him out of her mind and tries to get him to leave her alone. But, they have too much in common and she finds herself liking him and possibly loving him.
After hearing a few reviews of this book and then meeting Julia herself, I had to read this book. I learned a lot about the book before I read it at her reading in Indiana that I attended last weekend. Never once does she describe Willow or Guy, yet you can imagine the characters perfectly. I loved her reasoning behind this concept of not having the character recognizable. It also gives the reader more creative imagination on what they imagine the characters to look like.
I also love some of the added humor. Such as the point at which Willow’s brother David figures out she finally is involved with someone and tries to approach the issue of sex with her. I was laughing hysterically throughout that scene.
Also, the fact that the sex involved in the book is safe sex – both physically and spiritually. You rarely see sex portrayed in the correct way in young adult novels – if at all. When it does occur, there seems to be a lack of safe sex. I really applaud Julia for including this vital part of the book and the way it really helped lead Willow to realize there’s more than just the blade to keep her going.
My favorite line of the book is towards the end and I think it really captures what cutting can become to young women: “That box of blades can’t be your lover anymore, no matter how much they’ve been there for you in the past.” (p. 327) And really, I feel that cutting is an addiction and it definitely releases the same type of endorphins.
I have to applaud Julia for this amazing book – all the research she threw into it to portray a realistic situation in which to express the self-destructive behavior that is cutting.
I can’t say it was heavy either – yes, there were some serious issues addressed, but at the root of it all was the evolving relationship between a young man and woman. And well, who can’t relate to falling in love?