Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Willow - This IS Therapy

Imagine trading one pain for another. Sometimes physical pain hurts less than the emotions you may fear. Meet Willow -
She is 17 years old and her parents died in a car accident 7 months ago; Willow was the driver. She has since moved in with her brother, David, his wife and their new baby. Willow has turned to self-mutilation and has begun cutting herself to cope with the pain of her loss. She also mistakes David's grief as hatred and contempt for her. She is unable to connect with classmates and even avoids her old friends. It isn't until Willow meets Guy that her life seems to begin to come to life. They begin to form a friendship discussing books and it soon becomes more. It is with the help of Guy that Willow learns to feel life and all that goes with it again. She is no longer numb to emotion and those that she embraces overwhelm her. Does Willow give up the blades for a chance at life or do they have too much control over her?

Julia Hoban's story Willow follows Willow through her battle with the blades. Self-mutilation is a huge problem among teens today. What most people do not realize is that it is an addiction that is hard to break. Although some scenes may too much to handle for younger readers, Hoban does a good job showing Willow's struggle and the power the blades have over her. Willow also begins to embrace her emotions as she develops feelings for Guy. We see their relationship bloom throughout the book and it is definitely able to keep readers interested; I even felt jealous sometimes! Their's was a sweet vision of first love which seems to be a recurring theme in YAL.

Willow is a longer novel at over 300 pages and the chapters are very long; some almost 25 pages. Hoban's skills as an author shine through though as this did not bother me and I found myself deeply rooted in the book; it was hard to put down. I would definately reccomend this work but to a more mature audience as some of the cutting scenes can be graphic. Do not be fooled by the book's serious content as it is not just another depressing book. I found myself chuckling quite a bit in the second half and there were many smiles along the way.

*Please watch this videos. Some images may be disturbing but it is imperative to realize cutting is a serious problem.*

Self-Injury: An Addiction

In My Room Documentary: Cutting Story


Andra said...


My book Wintergirls also had a main character who used cutting to cope with things. I absolutely agree that it is a big problem with teens today. I think teens often choose it as a way of coping because they can hide it. For example, Lia from Wintergirls cuts below her waistband so no one would ever see it. Wrists are also a common place because the cutter can wear long sleeves. Like you said, it is also an addiction and cutters need professional help in order to stop cutting. I will need to read this book sometime. I am always looking for books that I can use as a literacy component in my health class. This is a good possibility.


Marcella said...


This book sounds interesting as well as very intense. I found myself wondering if Willow stops cutting by the end. It is saddening that some teens resort to this type of behavior to cope with their pain. I think reading stories such as this one can help teens to realize that others often struggling with difficult, or painful situations. Hopefully, the ending will also show teens some alternative methods to cope.

Clarissa Henmueller said...

Hi Anne,

I enjoyed reading your review of Willow. I think that many YA readers would understand Willow's feelings of frustration and pain. Also, they would see how destructive Willow's initial solution to her problems was. You describe how her friendship with Guy helps her to realize the consequences of what she is doing to herself and helps her to find a better solution. I liked how you mentioned the themes of friendship and first love. I think that these themes are especially interesting and important to YA readers because they are relatable to what is going on in their own teenage lives.

Donna N said...


You did a very nice job on your review. I am interested in reading about Willow. It is unfortunate that cutting is such a big deal for kids today. Life is very stressful and dealing with the death of your parents at such a young age can certainly send someone over the edge. Added to that, Willow being the driver. She must feel so much guilt besides all the grief.


hutting said...

The video you attached is an eye opener! I didn't know cutters cut that much and that DEEP! I almost lost my lunch watching the video and I scrolled down the side bar and read the comments under the video. I though drug addiction was painful to see, cutting is worst. I personally don't feel I could read this book in a class - I couldn't handle the discussions and any confessions it evoked! Thank you for an eye opening video and exposing my ignorance to this addiction.

T. Arnold said...

I give you much props for reading this book. Once again, this was a book on our list that I saw, but chose not to read. I would honestly not be able to get through the graphic parts about cutting. I would agree that this book would be best suited for a more mature audience. Cutting is a huge problem and I don’t think it gets addressed enough. I didn’t watch the video that you linked. It was too hard for me. I knew a few people with this problem, and unfortunately I’ve seen the real scars. We need to give our students an alternative to deal with stress, pain, etc.

Stephanie said...

I am thankful for books like these on the topic of cutting. I feel like this is a very serious and common problem in many teens. I have heard that one of the main reasons people cut is the feeling of having some sort of control over their often crazy life. I feel like if a student who attempts to cut read this book, I feel like they would be able to get over their struggle faster. It is good to know that someone, evern if it is a character in a book, went through the same things you do. And that it is an important enough topic to even write a book about.