Seven months ago the unthinkable happened, Willow, a teenager with just a permit, was driving her drunk parents home when she lost control of the car and killed her parents. Willow is now living with her older brother, his wife, and their infant girl. She gets by living hour by hour, but on the bad days minute by minute. Willow has taught herself to tuck away all her emotions and everything that reminds her of her parents. She keeps herself distracted by finding solace in something else. In cutting. Between idle small talk with her brother, so different from their very open relationship prior to the accident, and her strict boss at the college library Willow meets a boy. He loves books just like her and history just like her but he’s observant, something that doesn’t help her keep her big secret. So Willow must deal with the fact that getting close to this boy could make her confront the very things she lives to hide.
The Good: Willow specifically stood out to me because of the absolute, complete sense her actions seemed. Now I’m not saying that I support cutting or that I might pick up the habit. But I feel that Willow did what she had to do. She was presented with an impossible situation that she had to get through. It also makes me wonder how really impossible her situation was. Back to being able to relate to Willow, that takes tremendous strength in writing capability to do that. And also tons of research or at least some personal experience. Another part of this book really stood out to me; throughout the book there are references made to anthropology and literature. The stuff talked about in Willow is, according to me, not common knowledge. And these little things really impressed me. I loved hearing about what studying anthropology would be like and traveling the world. You don’t see many realistic fiction novels with obvious research taking place.
The Bad: Several times I felt Hoban not follow through with the scenes. A large event would take place and right on the precipice the chapter would end and the new one would begin several hours/minutes later, skipping over the dramatic moments. She would then go back towards the beginning of the chapter and tell you what actually did happen. I felt it was almost cowardice in a way. Was the scene too hard to write so let’s just skip it? I think it was severely lacking in some parts with really impactful scenes. And at times I felt a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to see exactly what the characters said but I also knew the outcome so it wasn’t like a little secret that was left up to the view to decide, like Cassandra Clare having sentences interrupted and then not finished, only to leave you guessing. These scenes that were missing were too crucial to the plot that they couldn’t be left up to interpretation completely.
Ugly Updates: Willow (also known as Scarred) is Hoban's debut novel. She has written several children's books but nothing else for YA or Adults. I was unable to find an author website but you can find her Goodreads page here. Buy Willow now by clicking here.