Poor Willow – she feels like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Both of her parents died in a car accident when she was sixteen and now she lives with her brother, sister-in-law and baby niece. Their apartment is small and cramped, money is tight and Willow feels like she’s in the way.
When Willow moved in with her brother, she had to transfer schools and she feels like she doesn’t fit in there either. She thinks everyone knows all about her, and she doesn’t want their pity. Academics aren’t going so well either since Willow’s mind is always somewhere else.
How does a seventeen year old high school student cope with all of that? Willow cuts herself because
She has so conditioned herself to transmute emotional pain into the physical realm, that without the razor to blunt her feelings, her body is responding the best way it possibly can. She is literally making herself sick.
(This is revealed very early in the book, so it’s not a spoiler.) Cutting becomes so important to Willow at times it seems like it’s all she can think about. She’s an expert at hiding her scars and her supplies. She says,
I’ve taught myself, I’ve trained myself, not to feel anything except physical pain. I’m completely in control of that.
When I first read about Willow by Julia Hoban on Presenting Lenore, I knew I had to read it and ordered it right away since none of our local stores carried it. It got buried by other books, and then Alea raved over it and I told myself I should read it soon. I got caught up with something else and didn’t get to it. Candace‘s review finally made me put it at the top of the TBR pile and I’m glad it did. I really enjoyed this book and its fictional peek into the life and mind of a cutter. The character development in Willow is fantastic! I really cared about Willow and hoped she would speak up as I read this book. Willow’s thinking is flawed at times, but if you can remember your teen years at all, you can totally relate to it. I did feel like things were wrapped up a little too neatly and easily by the end of the book, but it really didn’t distract from the story.
Reading Willow made me research cutting or “Deliberate Self Harm Syndrome” and I found some disturbing statistics. 1.9 million people in the U.S. are cutters and most of them are women between the ages of 13 and 30. Many of them have been sexually or physically abused and they cut to relieve anxiety. As far as I know, I’ve never known a cutter and I can’t imagine doing it to myself. I don’t mean that judgmentally, though, because I’ve never had to endure the pain many of them have. Cutters can be helped, so if you, or someone you know, is a cutter please speak up and find some help.