Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Bruised by Sarah Skilton


BruisedAuthor: Sarah Skilton
Release date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Hardcover, 288 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository


There’s only a handful of authors whose insightfulness I admire as much as I admire Sarah Skilton right now, most of them Australian. At first, my rating was 4.5 stars, but then I decided that such profound understanding of human psyche combined with really excellent writing deserves more. So I gave it a five, which is something I rarely do. And I don’t regret it.

Control and power are such interesting things. We all crave them, some more, some less, and none of us like to feel helpless or weak. But feeling powerful and in control can be a double-edged sword. That wonderful feeling easily turns into something horrible the second someone stronger comes along. We all want to believe that we can defend ourselves, that nothing big can harm us. Those things happen to other people, right?

But what if you spend years preparing for exactly one such event? Countless hours of training to protect not just yourself, but those who are weaker, powerless? And what if, when the time comes, you fail? I doubt an adult would be able to handle that very well. A sixteen-year-old girl? She’s likely to get angry, violent and depressed, and not in neat little stages, but all at once. She’s likely to crack.

Imogen spent six years living and breathing Tae Kwan Do. She followed all the rules, inside and outside the dojang. She trained hard, ate healthy and studied a lot for her average grades. She was confident that she could face any situation, confront any bully, fend off any attack, all thanks to her rigorous training. What she didn’t count on was a gun.

This story about Imogen’s struggle with guilt, depression, and the need to prove to everyone that she IS capable of defending herself, is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever read. Skilton’s approach is brutally honest and realistic, and she’s not in the business of creating heroes. Imogen wasn’t always the easiest character to like, but even when she was being unfair or judgmental, I could feel the hurt pouring off her, and I desperately wanted to protect her even though she doesn’t need anyone’s protection.

The most wonderful thing about Bruised are its layers. As the story progresses, more of Imogen’s family issues are revealed, and we see it’s not just the event in the diner she struggles with, but also problems that were there before. She’s angry at her father for ignoring his diabetes and ending up in a wheelchair, she’s upset with her older brother for outshining her in everything, but most of all, she resents her mother for not accepting her for who she is.

There is no magic wand Imogen can wave to make her problems disappear. Depression and anger aren’t things one can just decide to recover from overnight. Bruised isn’t some miraculous story about self discovery. It’s about a girl forced to question everything she stands for and maybe become a better person in the process.

If you’re a contemporary fan, Bruised is an absolute must-read. If you’re not… well, neither am I, but the best things in life come from unexpected directions. I know not everyone will love this book as much as I did, but it will definitely leave an impression. It’s not one you’ll easily forget.


27 comments:

  1. "If you’re a contemporary fan, Bruised is an absolute must-read." Well, that's definitely me! I'm really looking forward to reading this. It sounds exactly like something I'd love. Lovely review, Maja.

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  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much Maja, enough to give it 5 stars :) I don't read too much contemporary books either but obviously this is going to have to go on my considering list now. Thanks for a great review Maja :D

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  3. Wow. This sounds really powerful. I love that the MC starts out so confident, gets shattered by something unexpected and has to build herself up again.

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  4. Even if it wasn't on my wishlist already, your awesome review would have put this book on it, Maja! I really love books like this, they make you think. Really really enjoyed reading your review, and you are dead on with Australian authors! They come out with some amazing YA books these days. :)

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  5. I haven't seen a whole lot about this one yet so I am so glad I read your review! I definitely want to add this to my TBR pile now. Great review!

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  6. I just learned about this book but it sounds fantastic. I love that it had such a profound understanding of Imogen's human psyche. Also great that the book explores so many layers on top of just her guilt over that one event.

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  7. I'm so absurdly excited for this book Maja! A fellow blogger was nice enough to lend me a copy so I could experience its awesomeness and I can't wait. I was going to pass right on by this book because I didn't think it would be a book for me, but I'm so glad to have read Hannah's review and yours as they have utterly convinced me otherwise. I love a book with layers that digs deep under the skin of the characters despite how much it hurts to do so. Stunning review my friend.

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  8. I saw this one on NG and I kept debating about picking it up. The description just didn't seem to catch my eye, but after reading your review I think I was wrong to pass it up so quickly. I think I'll have to give this one a closer look when it gets published. Great review!

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  9. Maja I love the sound of this book, the layers and depth the author manages to weave. And I actually didn't even know that the cover was a broken tae-kwondo trophy. Thank you so much for putting this on my radar hun, I know it will be something that I would love! :)

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  10. I first saw this book over at Alice Marvels and I read the excerpt and I thought at first it was a book I wouldn't read, especially based on the cover. That cover certainly isn't doing this book any favors but after reading the short excerpt I was intrigued and now after this review, I want this one. You know I am not a big contemporary fan either but if you give one five stars then I am going to listen!

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  11. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much, Maja. It sounds like a beautifully heart-breaking novel and I'm glad there is no magic wand as such serious issues cannot be fixed so easily.

    I like that this novel also targets somebody that is seemingly strong at the start. Awesome review, Maja! :-)

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  12. Yep... this sounds like a book I need to read. I really love the way it sounds like the book handles being vulnerable. I'm not huge on contemporary, but I love a book like this. Often contemporary seems to skim the surface and this one gets to the depths. Yep, I'm putting this on my wishlist now!

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  13. This sounds wonderful and so many books touch on the winner, that last minute miracle..i like that this address those dedicated, faithful participants who don't make "gold". This sounds like the author has great depth and insight into the emotional side of it all.

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  14. I love this review, Maja! I think the idea of control is one we all strive for in life and to see it emulated in such a manner - as a girl who hones her self-defense skills - and then have it lost is such an intriguing concept. I'm really looking forward to reading this one and a physical ARC of it is on my way thanks to great trading sites. Lovely review, dearest! I can't wait to compare notes when I finish! :D

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  15. I picked this one up at ALA and had no idea what people were saying about it yet. I'm so glad to read this review because it was kind of getting pushed aside for books I was hearing amazing things about. I'm definitely going to pick this one up. 5 stars, wow!

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  16. Oh I'm so thrilled that you loved this one as much as I did! I feel like I should just skip writing my review, because you've expressed my love for this book so perfectly and eloquently. This is definitely in my top contemporary reads for the year. I'm not the biggest contemp fan either, but this story really touched me deeply. "the best things in life come from unexpected directions"<---LOVE this! I need to remember that more in my reading life, and branch out of my comfort zone more often. It can be so rewarding, as it was in this case. Beautiful review!

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  17. It’s so true, what you say about Australian authors! I’m not sure what makes their writing so thought-provoking or lovely, but it’s insane. The concept for Bruised is so intense and potentially heartbreaking that I knew I wanted to read it—and I love that it works well and the author did it justice.

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  18. This sounds intense and I think I'll feel deeply moved by the circumstances that Imogen has to endure. Thank you for sharing!

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  19. Wow! The cover alone makes me want to read it. Sounds perfectly fluff free. I could use that right now.

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  20. This story sounds like really extreme circumstances! Your description of that premise...now I really need to know what happens! Which I actually do appreciate in YA contemporaries. Your review has definitely piqued my interest and I will be looking into this book now.

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  21. My mom tried to get me to do Taekwondo when I was younger... yeah, I lasted one week. I can't wait to read this one. Great review, Maja.

    -Maggie

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  22. Amazing Review! I can understand where Imogen's grief and guilt is coming from. I'm glad you liked it so much. A contemporary getting 5 stars from you deserves to be read.
    I actually got approved for it from Netgalley but I was so busy this month with assignments and all that I couldn't read it and now I feel so bad. :(

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  23. hehee I love how you love Aussie authors<3 Makes me so proud to be Australian!<3333 I'm seriously so thrilled you loved this one :) I never paid much attention to this, but WOW. This sounds SO amazing! Thanks for putting this on my radar, Maja :) Great review!!

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  24. I think I may have been a little too quick to judge this book when I first came across it. Just the mention of martial arts had me turning away, but I can see now that it's so much more than that. Also, your 5 stars are very rare, but I trust your judgement completely. I'm glad this impressed!

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  25. The layers and the character of Imogen really sounds great. I wasn't going to read this but I am adding to my shelf right now because of your lovely review.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  26. If you loved this and you're not a contemp fan, I know I'll love it, Maja! This sounds so good. This poor girl and what she had to go through. Must put this in the TBR. Wonderful review. :)

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  27. I've been wanting to read this for a while and your review definitely convinced me I need to read this asap! Fantastic review and I'm so glad you enjoyed this even though you're not a fan of contempt reads.

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