Sunday, April 17, 2011

Willow by Julia Hoban

iconiconAs I mentioned in a recent post, I've been reading more than one book at once lately.  Willow was my "fun" book while I work my way through a much more serious, but extremely interesting, nonfiction book, Indian Givers.

Willow is about a girl whose parents were killed in a car crash when she was driving, about 7 months prior to when the novel beings.  Seventeen-year-old Willow is now living with her brother, who is 10 years older than her, and his family.  Unable to manage the grief and guilt she feels for the accident, she has started cutting herself.

Then Willow meets Guy, a boy at her new school.  He becomes the only person to know her secret, that she's a cutter.  Willow has more or less shut down emotionally, and is reluctant to get into a relationship that will make her feel something, but knowing her secret binds her and Guy more tightly together than she could ever have dreamed.

Okay, I admit it, it doesn't seem like a "fun" book, but it's short (about 200 pages on the Nook) and the type of fast-paced narration YA novels typically are — a nice change from the nonfiction book I'm also reading.  I also fond myself genuinely drawn into Willow's story, and I thought the author did an excellent job of making the reader understand things from Willow's point of view.

My only hesitation about recommending this book is something I read once — that children tend to absorb the bad behaviors from a story, rather than the new, reformed behaviors.  The article was talking about young children and picture books, but I can't help but wonder if a novel like this will give a teenage girl the idea to cut herself in order to be more like Willow.  Of course we can't shelter teenage girls from ideas like this in order to make sure it never happens, but at the same time, I worry about recommending it.  I think it's more the kind of book a girl just has to find on her own.

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