Julia Hoban’s novel Willow represents her foray into YA fiction. I was drawn to this book because, as with suicide, I am fascinated by self-injury as a coping mechanism. After the death of her parents, Willow withdraws from the world, blaming herself for the tragedy. She cuts as a way to punish herself, and bring herself back to reality when sucked into painful flashbacks of her car accident. Everything changes when Willow meets Guy, who accepts Willow for who she is, and helps her come to do the same.
I’m glad to see self-injury being represented more in YA books; it’s a taboo subject, but one that needs to be acknowledged as the number of teenagers who engage in self-harm increases. Having said that, I found Hoban’s characters flat, and the writing repetitive. I truly wanted to love this book, and I know many others did, which keeps me from reviewing it too negatively. If you, or someone you know, are interested in reading a book about a character dealing with grief, loss, and cutting, give this one a try and decide for yourself.