Thursday, October 8, 2009


Title: Willow
Author: Julia Hoban
Genre: YA

Publisher: Dial
Publishing Date: August 2, 2009
Hardcover: 336 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand Alone

Where did I get this book: Library (as usual)

Summary:(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.

First off, I need to say this isn’t the sort of book I regularly read. I am a fantasy junkie and rarely read anything outside that genre in YA. Not because there aren’t plenty of good books out there, but because I have a hard time with the protagonists of a lot of YA books (tends to be a lot of whining going on). So I was a bit unsure about this book and just decided to give it a shot after I saw it on Dannie’s blog.

That being said, I loved it.

Even though I did find the main character, Willow, to be annoying at times, when I finished the book I realized it’s one of the characteristics that makes Willow’s story believable. The constant self doubt and emotional flagellation make sense in Willow’s world. Her instability will draws you in and the grotesque images of cutting will make you distance yourself. That constant teeter-totter is what really fleshes out the story.

Believe me, there will be times when you can’t stand Willow. As a reader you can only read so many pages of constant self hate before you find yourself shutting off emotional from the character. But then Willow will take a small step forward and you’ll find that’s all you need to restore your hope. It’s the sort of emotional connection that only a great book can make.

Then there’s the issue of Guy. A lot of people seem to criticize Guy’s character as unbelievable, but I don’t really agree with that sentiment. I think cutting is the sort of thing where you think you know exactly what you’d do if you found out something like this was happening to someone you knew, but I think Guy’s reaction was quite usual. (At least in the sense that he just tried to be there for Willow but was otherwise lost.)

The thing I liked least was the repetitiveness of some of the book. This is kind of one of those double edged swords though. Even though I found myself skimming some of Willow’s internal struggles, I think there were necessary to convey a true sense of emotional turmoil. (A great example is in the book Melusine by Sarah Monette. The character Felix goes crazy in the book. Though there are a lot of repetitive parts and I found myself skimming, I realized when the book was finished that it made the story more realistic.)

I also liked how the ending was satisfying without being too tidied up.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: (page 108)
Guy rolls up her sleeve and she thinks he wants to check to make sure that his bandage is holding, but instead he peels back the Band-aid and stares at the cut.

“It’s so ugly.” His tone is matter-of-fact.

Willow jerks her hand away. She can’t believe that he said that and she can’t believe that she cares. She knows the cuts are ugly, and she’s not interested in his opinion, but still, she’s horribly insulted. Hurt and insulted. It’s almost as if he said that her face was ugly.

Guy tears his eyes away from her cuts and look up at her. He must have seen from her stricken expression that his words have had an impact, but he doesn’t apologize.
Rating: 8. Excellent – some laughing and/or crying involved


  1. I want this book in the worst way. I was *this* close to buying it but then I had to buy eat.

  2. haha I know the feeling (hence my intense use of my library).