Saturday, May 8, 2010

Willow by Julia Hoban

Book review #36
Willow by Julia Hoban
Rating: Three stars (refer to the rating system on the right)

Summary: (taken 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. 

I read this book way over a month ago, but I couldn't get myself to write the review. I've never been so torn about how I felt about a book.  After reading several raving reviews claiming Willow to be one of their favorite books, I knew I had to read it. Saying that, I was a bit disappointed.  I had some issues with parts of the book, but there were several things I did enjoy. Willow was powerful, emotional, and heart-breaking.

After the tragic accident killing both of her parents, Willow is left as a completely different person. Living with her older brother and his small family it becomes obvious that her  brother is clearly a different person as well. They're relationship is severely damaged, just making everything worse. Willow leaves behind her old lifestyle, friends, due to the belief that she is the cause for her parent's death. The only good thing she has going for her is working at the university library. When things get really tough, she turns to the razor for help. Then Guy squeezes his way into her life, yet again making everything different.

The plot and the descriptions is what really made the book. It doesn't have very much action, but the content was enough to keep you very engaged. The cutting scenes were intense and hard to read. It definitely makes you feel uncomfortable. The scenes at the library definitely helped make the book more peaceful.  I loved how a lot of the book was set at the library, surrounded by books. I just adore it when books are such an important part in the characters' lives.

The part I didn't enjoy so much was Willow herself. I definitely understand and feel sympathy for her situation. But I found the way she handled everything was whiny. It's hard to read about characters who absolutely hate themselves. Willow blamed everything she did, not only her parent's death, on herself. Yes, she was driving the car, but that is certainly not all there is to the story. Even if it really was her fault, that shouldn't mean that she's an awful person. Willow does go through some changes, but very gradually.

Although I didn't love Willow, I absolutely loved Guy! He was such an amazing person, in fact he made the list for my top favorite characters. He was sensitive and caring. After discovering Willow's problem, Willow who was a mere stranger to him at the time, he could have just left...but he didn't. Guy made Willow such a better person. Together they had something words can barely describe.

Willow definitely picked up in the second half of the book. I am glad that I did read it. I've never read a book about this subject, so it was nice to go inside the head of somewhat understand their reasoning for inflicting so much pain upon themselves. Willow had its ups and downs, but if this sounds like something you would enjoy, then go ahead and give it a go.


A.J. said...

Really good review! :) That's bascially how I felt about this book.

Stephanie said...

Great review, and I enjoyed your thoughts on the main character. Cutting is a disturbing topic, and I can see that it might be difficult to connect with a character expressing relentless self loathing. I am really curious to read this book and see what I think.

blueicegal said...

i really want to read this book, Ive heard such great things about it PS fellow muslim here :)

Emidy said...

Interesting, interesting! I don't read many (if any) books about this subject. I want to check Willow out. Thanks for reviewing it!

Dazzling Mage said...

Great review. Like you said, a lot of good things were said about the novel, but it always makes me happy to see readers critical about what they read. =)

Shanyn said...

I am a little worried now, I've been told this is a few people's favorite books but I've seen mixed reviews too! Guess I'll have to wait and see what I think (when I get time to read it of course)!

Jan von Harz said...

It is hard writing a review when you have such mixed emotions about it. That being said I think you did a terrific job at expressing the good and the not so great things that you felt about this book.

jewelknits said...

This is a very well-worded review. I think that there are many books that we read that have both good and bad points, and you've described both very well.

I came over from Book Blogs!

jewell330 at aim dot com

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

Great review! A great, honest review. I have this one on my wishlist. I've heard a lot of great things about this one. I still want to read it. I think it's the type of book you just need to try it yourself.