Thursday, April 2, 2009
Well, is it any surprise that with all the hype Willow has been getting that it's April's Book of the Month?
When Julia Hoban approached me last year to inquire as to whether or not I would read her book, I was struck by her kindness, thoughtfulness, and the amount of knowledge she possesses. When I finally read Willow, I was blown away:
Willow has been living in a fog for seven months. She performs basic functions--eating communicating, and going to school, but inside she's struggling to deal with a torrent of guilt and pain brought on by the events of a rainy night seven months previously when her parents died in the car she was driving after Willow had lost control of the vehicle.
Isolated and lonely, Willow has turned to her only outlet for her grief--cutting. She manages to keep her growing obsession with the razor blade a secret from everyone--until one day easygoing and hardworking Guy discovers her secret. Rather than look the other way, he becomes determined to help Willow, even though her attitude to him is far from warm. But as time goes by, Willow finds the perhaps a friend is what she needs, and slowly Guy draws her out of her shell. But is Willow strong enough to let go of her only release for her pain, and discover new ways of living?
Willow is a striking and mesmerizing read. What stands out the most is the fact that Hoban focuses just as much on the developing emotions of her characters rather than making the act of cutting the only forefront issue, which gives the book a very sincere and captivating quality. Willow is an intelligent and sensitive character who, though some people may not be able to empathize with on some levels, is a very natural and dynamic character that readers can identify with. The issue of cutting is handled very smoothly and is looked at from both sides, which will placate a diverse group of readers.
Another element of the novel that stands out is the vivid imagery Hoban employs to set the scene of the book without being overly elaborate, creating a tangible universe for her story. The plot flows at a smooth and steady pace that is easy to follow and completely realistic. Willow is a beautifully written story, wrought with grief, pain, hope, and love that is tender without being cheesy, and optimistic without being cliché or improbable. At the close of the novel, Hoban continues in her practice of keeping it real with a step towards healing that isn't highly dramatic, but hopeful and plausible, leaving readers wishing and hoping for the very best, and unwilling to say goodbye to Willow.
And, if that's not enough to get you interested, here's a trailer that I made for Willow:
Julia Hoban will be dropping by this month for some insightful and fun posts, so stick around! Also, be sure to check out the release party for Willow at gettingtoknowwillow.blogspot.com! There's a MAJOR contest plus lots of cool extras! See you there!