Willow by Julia Hoban
Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it- Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.
Now seventeen, WIllow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself.
And then she meets Guy, a boy as senstive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow's secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she's created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship.
Julia Hoban has created an unfliching sotry about cutting, grieving, and starting anew. But above all, she has written an unforgettable tale of first love.
At first, I was completely surprised by the style of writing. It’s different. It’s in third person and is especially detached. It sounds like commentary. But I wouldn’t say it’s bad thing. It suits the book, and it suits Willow, if that makes sense.
It’s a pretty intense read. It’s about cutting, which is something I’ve never read before this book. It’s kind of gruesome, but thankfully it doesn’t go into details like “the knife cut into my skin, deeper, deeper, oh what pleasure, the beautiful red blood dripped down my arm. Little droplets, only a smidgen at first. And then a whole river of red juice flowed down my arm to the floor.” I mean, I could picture it, but it wasn’t so much that I wanted to throw up or anything.
The characters are interesting and well done, Willow and Guy especially. (Although I don’t like the name Guy. It sounds like a non-name, like Thing #1 or Person #2. Like the author didn’t bother to name the character.) Willow is utterly real and strong and beautifully crafted. I loved the relationship between Willow and Guy. Guy quickly finds out about Willow’s cutting, and so he faces some inner problems of what to do. And they talk. As the book progresses, so does their relationship. It’s incredibly cute and the type of relationship I love to read about.
Although… I did think some parts of their relationship kind of odd. For instance, Willow can guess exactly what room Guy likes in a museum. Guy knows exactly what flavour of ice cream Willow would love. Sure, they tell each other their pasts and fears. But I don’t think that means it tells them about each others preferences on little things.
Another thing I want to point out: there’s very little description of the characters. I mean physically wise. I have no idea what hair colour Guy has, or how tall Willow is. Willow has scars and cut all over her obviously from cutting. And Guy rows and has strong and beautiful arms. But besides that… nothing. Which I don’t think is a bad thing really, just different.
A lot of the book is quite angsty and depressing. I feel some of the side characters were just there to add some lightness to the book. There’s only so much cutting a reader can handle. But the balance was quite well done, and I suppose I knew it wouldn’t be a happy-smile-on-my-face-the-whole-time kind of book.
The ending though was a little too happy. The whole book is sombre, and then the ending comes, and it’s like a Disney happily-ever-after ending. And while I am a lover of happy endings, I don’t think they always work. At least not with Willow.
Overall, Willow’s a really interesting read. Willow is an extraordinary character. There are moments with Willow and Guy together that I really enjoyed. I learned exactly why a girl would start cutting herself, because it’s something I can’t fathom doing.
6 hours ago