Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: Willow by Julia Hoban

 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.
Plot: 5/5
Creativity: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Impact: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Edgy, raw and emotional, Willow is an unforgettable novel that delves deep into the psyche of an emotionally and psychologically traumatized teenager.

Willow was once a normal teenager. She worried about boys, she loved going out with her friends, she excelled in school- her life was great. And then one night, she drove for her parents and they got into a terrible accident. Luckily, Willow made it out alive- but she's the only one who did. With her parents dead, she moves in with her brother and her life turns a full 180.

The accident leaves Willow scarred not only physically, but emotionally, too. Life as she knew it vanished, and she was thrown into this new world of guilt and loneliness. Unable to handle the brunt of it all, she resorts to the only thing that can make the pain inside disappear- cutting.

Willow is definitely not a light read. The cutting process is described somewhat graphicly, and while reading I could almost feel the blade slashing through my skin. The words are vivid, raw, and because of that it was occasionally difficult to read. The emotions are also explosive- there's so much pain and sorrow, and some may find it depressing. It's all part of the amazing story, though.

I really enjoyed the story- it kept me thinking, and it definitely kept me interested. I just wanted to spend every spare moment getting lost in the novel, finding out what will happen next. It was such a painful story, so original and beautiful in its own right, and it explored an issue that isn't tackled a lot. That mixed with an unconventional love story made for an exhilarating reading experience. It was amazing.

The set of characters the story presented was also wonderful. Willow was so real, I could feel every ounce of her agony. There were times when she left me confused, but I didn't mind those times so much- the rest of the time, her characterization was amazing. David, Willow's brother, was another great character. Being tasked with taking care of your sister on top of taking care of your own family as you deal with your parents' death can really push a person towards his breaking point, and David was on the brink of that for most of the book but he still tried to keep it together- it was beautiful. And Guy! Where do I even begin to describe Guy? He's wonderful, a knight in shining armor, unlike any other. I LOVED him. His relationship with Willow was probably my favorite part of the novel. He was just so understanding, so ideal, so patient. He was everything Willow needed, yet he as still imperfect, and I liked that there was still an element of believability in him.

Willow is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It's dark, it's painful, it definitely won't appeal to everyone. But behind all that dirt and grit is a beautiful story of surviving life after death, and how love can really save us all. So if you're up for it, I strongly suggest reading this. It will leave you speechless.


  1. Willow really was an emotional and beautifully written book. And Guy was so wonderful! I also loved him. :D

  2. What an insightful and well-written review. I do not think Willow is my kind of read, but I can tell by your review that the author did a great job with the story.

  3. Aww this is such an amazing review! I liked the same things you did, but there were some things I didn't like so much. I definitely do agree about Guy though, I loved him! (: