Willow by Julia Hoban

by Kat Alexander

All About Willow…Seriously

Three and a half stars because Willow frequently pissed me off. She’s so… irritating. She’s rather thick and rather full of herself through much of the beginning. Guy mellows her out a bit, as do his friends. But still.

Willow is seventeen, but if you asked her what she is, that’s not what she’d think of. She’d have to decide between orphan, cutter, and murderer. All of which are new, seven-month-old titles. Seven months since she moved in with her brother, David, after that March storm and the dinner party, where Willow’s parents drank too much and had Willow drive. It was a dark and stormy night, and Willow didn’t have her license, even. She crashed. Both of her parents died.

Since then, Willow has had to come to terms with her grief. The only way she sees fit, though, is courting a razor blade. Arms, legs, stomach, all the same–it all produces pain. And physical pain is much preferred to mental.

I had high expectations for this book. The UK title, Scarred, is probably more appropriate for those expectations. The USA title, though, is Willow, and that’s exactly what it was: all about Willow. Willow’s world centers around Willow. Willow’s world includes no one but Willow. And that really, really annoyed me. She pretends to care about David and Cathy, and deep down it’s clear she does, but she doesn’t make an effort. At all. Because it’s all about Willow. Does she try and make her own life better? No. Not at all.

I know I sound insensitive, and I know I don’t have any basis to go on. I’m not in Willow’s position. My parents are in perfect health; I don’t have to deal with the same kind of pain Willow does. But still. Willow’s just so over-the-top. Some people call it an intimate look into a character’s mind. I call it the author making their character ridiculously insensitive to everyone else in the world.

Guy annoyed me more than once as well. His tirade, “Do you know what you’ve done to my life?” was rather out-of-place, considering how devoted to Willow’s health and happiness and how caring he generally is. It’s not like he says it once and then apologizes because it’s absurdly rude. No, he says it again, and again, and again.

The plot itself is rather good. It’s a good premise, a good topic. Eventually, it gets better. There’s a particular scene that I love from their awkwardness, the genuine nature of it (you’ll know the scene when you read it). But there’s just too much foolishness where Willow and Guy’s personalities are concerned for me to rate it higher than three stars.

Kat is a freshman at a nerd school. She believes there are two types of people who plot: novelists and evil dictators, and aspires to some day be both.

2 thoughts on “Willow by Julia Hoban

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *