Monday 7 June 2010

SCARRED 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 new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself. And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive 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.

This is one of those books that as soon as I read the blurb, I was intrigued. I know it's been out in the U.S. for a while now, under the name of WILLOW, so I couldn't pass up the chance to read and review it. :)

Willow is seventeen, but instead of facing the normal problems that other teenagers around her face, she's lost in a much darker place. Seven months ago, her parents died in a car accident. She was the one driving during a horrible rainy night. Now, she's living with her brother and his wife, as well as their baby daughter. She goes to school like every other kid her age, she works at the University library because her brother was able to get her the job, and she attends high school. She seems normal on the surface.

Until you dig a little deeper and notice that she doesn't hang out with other kids. That she doesn't really speak to her brother. That she keeps falling behind on her schoolwork, and that she always wears long sleeves. There's a reason for that. Willow is a cutter. She cuts herself to feel the pain of the blade piercing her skin. She cuts herself in order to feel something other than numb. She cuts herself because she can't express her grief and guilt any other way. She's so convinced that her brother hates her for killing their parents that she refers to herself as a murderer.

Willow lives a very unhappy life of isolation and self-hurt. She doesn't think she deserves any better than that. Why should she laugh and enjoy life when she took her parents' life away? But that all changes when she meets the shy and very nice, Guy. He stumbles on her secret. At first, all she wants to do is make sure that he doesn't tell her brother. And Guy keeps his word, instead telling her to call him when she feels the need to cut.

This is how their friendship begins and blossoms into something very special. The more time she spends with Guy, the more Willow finds herself trusting him in every sense of the word. After all, no one else knows her deep, dark secret--what she does to herself when it gets so bad that the sharp end of a blade is the only thing able to shut out the noise of her horrible memories. She's as exposed as she could ever be to anyone else. And slowly, Guy helps her step out of the darkness she's surrounded herself in and into something a little brighter.

Scarred is an amazing story. It's a beautiful book that deals with some very dark subject matter. Yet, Julia Hoban is able to portray Willow's pain and Guy's need to save her in such an honest and caring way, that you can't help but fall in love with this book. Willow and Guy's joined journey is bittersweet, but so hopeful. I found every character's journey to be heartbreaking, but so wonderful and inspiring. It was also lovely to see that although all of Willow's negative feelings slowly melt away to something a lot safer, it's not a quick-fix. She can't just magically stop doing what's helped her bear the strains of everyday life for so long.

I think that this is a book everyone should have on their TBR pile.

Scarred, May 2010, ISBN 978-074-994232-8, Piatkus Fiction Paperback

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