Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Review: Bruised by Sarah Skilton
Author: Sarah Skilton
Release date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Hardcover, 288 pages
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.