Friday, 28 May 2010

Scarred by Julia Hoban

March 2010, by Piatkus
312 pages, Paperback
Received as part of IBBMP

Young Adult

Cushions: 4
Daggers: 2 (a bit gory in places)
Paperclips: 1-2
Tissues: 3
Nayuleska's recommended rating:♥♥♥♥♥

Book cover blurb:
(This isn't for squeamish readers)

Seven months earlier on a rainy March night, Willow's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it - Willow lost control of the car and both of her parents were killed. 

Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life; she is secretly cutting herself. And then she meets Guy - a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow's secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she's created for herself, and into a difficult, intense and potentially life-changing relationship. 

This book focuses on what I feel is a tough and sensitive issue: self-harm. I chose this book specifically for this reason. I know self-harmers, and have had first-hand experience of all the emotions surrounding self harming. 

Julia tackles the subject matter well. No holds are barred. The reader truly gets into all of Willow's thoughts. How she works out places she can safely cut herself. Tools for cutting. How to buy them (and how other people might be onto what she does when she buys them). Ways to hide her cuts and her tools. 

But Willow can't hide forever. The fears she has at being found out came across strongly to me. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how Guy would react. He does have an adverse reaction at some point in the story, but most of the time he stays true to Willow. 

I liked how Willow explained why she cuts because of the emotion behind it. She knows it isn't a good thing to do, but there's a part of her which rationalises doing it.  I was squirming in my seat at the more gruesome scenes, which involved the need for paperclip rating, alongside the daggers. Those parts weirded me out a bit, yet they seemed realistic. The intensity of the scenes worked well for book, and wasn't out of place for Willow's character. Some of Guy's actions and reactions weren't what I'd call normal, but the realism was there. His character was a good match for Willow. She needed someone to know what she did, without (mostly) prejudging her. 

The novel isn't only about self-harm, it is also about Willow's journey in coming to terms with the tragic accident. That is all it was. Losing parents in a car accident can't be easy to deal with - what makes it harder for Willow is that she was directly involved in it. It affects her relationship with her brother, a relationship which alters thanks to Guy's involvement in her life. It affects how she feels, and why she self-harms. 

For those who can stomach a tricky subject like this, I wholeheartedly recommend Scarred. 

Issues of self-harm are touched upon in Keren David's When I Was Joe and also the upcoming (not yet available) Almost True. 


Shy said...

I do love reading something that deals with human's emotions. And I believe this book suit me perfectly. The reality of such dire situation and the truth behind it will surely bring shiver to ones spine, but I believe this is why book like this is worth to be read. Excellent review. I cannot wait to read this one myself!

Nayuleska said...

Thanks Shy! It's a good one.