Willow by Julia Hoban (2009)
Willow is a cutter. It's the only way she can deal with the pain and guilt she feels over her parents' death in a car accident seven months before. Never mind that her parents wanted to have a little more wine at dinner and then made her, a novice driver with only a learner's permit, their designated driver during a terrible storm--Willow still feels at fault. She's living with her older brother and knows that he hates her for killing their parents and ruining his life by imposing herself into it. When the guilt and memories overwhelm Willow, she cuts herself, and that pain somehow allows her deal with everything else.
No one knows Willow's secret until she meets Guy, who somehow insinuates himself into her life. Willow works through some of her issues as her relationship with Guy develops. Yes, it's a little weird to have a novel about cutting overlap with first love, but it works. Is everything tied up neatly at the end? No, but there's hope, and that's enough.
Willow is a beautiful story, compellingly told and is by far one of the best YA novels I've read for a while. Watch for it on all the prize lists in the next year or so! Recommended for high school and older due to intense scenes, sex, and language.
#MiddleGradeMay: Ghost Boys - You guys. This book. My heart. I just... This is one not to miss if you've got kids asking questions about social justice or things they've heard (or seen ...
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