Julia Hoban’s Willow makes me weep

willowWillow by Julia Hoban

Genre: Contemp, YA

Published: 2009 April, by Dial

Format: Paperback

Source: Bought my own copy from Booktopia 

Seven months ago 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.

I was so excited for this novel. Depression and cutting is not something I read very often, for fear of it been done wrong. Sadly, I didn’t think it was done right at all. There was so many cringe worthy moments in this book, with sickly romance and a weird writing style. I didn’t like Willow.

Willow’s story starts after an accident that left her parents dead, and her deep in depression. We follow her road from cutting to forgiveness with the help of Guy (very original name), our love interest.

That was probably the biggest turn off for Willow. The romance was shocking. Let me tell you why.

–          Insta love. At times, I could definitely see a connection between Willow and Guy. They liked a lot of the same things and had plenty to talk about. BUT. That didn’t happen very often. Nope. The majority of their conversations focused on Willow’s cutting situation. What a romance buzzer. I’m sorry, but how can I believe love is in the air when all they ever talk about is cutting and other depressing topics? I can’t. I just can’t.

–           Love conquers all. A boy can fix all of you problems because he constantly tells you how ugly your scars are. Because your biggest conversation starter is the price of razors.  Because having someone love you for those reasons alone makes you feel better, even when you are all sorts of messed up. Ugh. I can’t stand it.

–          Sex can redeem and change you. Yup. Our love interest says so himself (in more subtle words).

P.S The sex scene is REALLY AWKWARD and un-romantic. It was the most cringe worthy thing I have ever come across in a YA novel. Not exaggerating.

Okay, moving on from the god awful romance, the way this was written was really odd. It was third person, present tense. It took me two thirds of the book to get over it. It was just the weirdest combo. I constantly had to re-read sentences because at times, they sounded wrong and I was constantly being disconnected from the story. Very jarring, and prevented me from properly connecting to the story and characters.

Another problem I had, was that I didn’t agree with the way cutting was portrayed. I’m probably going to sound really insensitive here, especially since I have never experienced the kind of depression that urges me to harm myself. But I found it really odd how carefully she looked after her cuts. I did understand and agreed with a lot of it – her reasons for doing so, her worry of someone finding out, the great lengths she goes to keep it hidden. It was just the cynical way she acted about it that felt wrong. I needed something a little more frantic and less logical. It’s hard to explain, but while so much of it felt real, there was just a little something that didn’t sit right with me and left me judging it the entire time.

Okay, so I touched on something there that I actually did like – a lot of the time, Willow’s emotions were very believable. Her train of thought and reasoning was often very relatable and understandable and I could totally picture myself thinking like that if I were in her position. Again, though, it was missing an edge of urgency and pain. It felt almost too logical for something so traumatic.

Sadly, that isn’t enough to redeem itself. I couldn’t connect to the characters, even though Willow was relatable, the writing just ruined any chance I had with her. I disliked the entire romantic aspect of Willow, and I cringe just thinking about it. I can only recommend this book if you can ignore tense and enjoy corny romance. For those more like me, I wouldn’t recommend Willow.




6 thoughts on “Julia Hoban’s Willow makes me weep

  1. Awww, I’m sorry this was a disappointment for you Brea! Especially since you were very excited for it! But the romance does sound like a nightmare, I’m not a big fan of insta-love and I hate it when love becomes the solution to a really serious psychological and mental problem. Hopefully, your next read would be better! Great review 🙂

  2. Oh dear, insta love strikes again *shakes head sadly* I feel like everyone is writing negative reviews on this recently, hopefully the instalove storm will pass!
    Great review though, and I see what you did there with the title 😉
    If you’re looking for something way more meaningful and less lovey then I recommend Louder than Words by Laura Jarratt, I did a review if you want to check it out but in short, it is amazing and my book hangover will last a forever with this one!

  3. Oh gosh, this sounds horrible. If a contemporary book touching on depression, loss and self harming makes you laugh out loud at, ‘Because your biggest conversation starter is the price of razors’, probably best not to add this one. I’m still laughing. LOVE the snark Brea.

    • Hahahaha I really did not enjoy this book, so I’ve done some exaggerating. But yeah, maybe read some other reviews because I’m in the minority! This book is adored by so many.

  4. Sounds like an interesting read, Brea. The romance sounds like all of my pet hates all put into one relationship! I HATE love conquering all because I always feel it’s so unrealistic and stupid…

    But you have got me interested. Not heard of this book before and now I’m fascinated at how him telling her her scars are ugly = romance… 😛 Great review – I’m sure it would have been a hard one to write!

    • I had no idea where to start when writing this review! And yeah – the romance makes no sense. Guy is so blunt and hurtful about her condition, but yet they overcome it together? I just. I can’t. Ugh.

      Thanks for stopping by Kate! I can see why you would be intrigued. 😛

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