Hey guys! I am excited to share my newest review with you because I loved this book. I loved, loved, loved this book.
Author: Sarah Skilton
Available: March 5, 2013
Summary (from Goodreads):
When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths.
My little man is currently taking Tae Kwon Do, so what first drew me to this book was the cover and the fact that this figurine was in pieces. Clearly this book was going to have depth to it, and I love a strong YA novel that has depth. I was not disappointed.
First I want to say that the summary from Goodreads does not do justice to this novel. Period. But to be fair, there is not too much to say about the plot without ruining key points. Of course, that’s the hardest part of writing a review, right? Staying true to the book and characters without ruining the plot.
I will say this about the plot: powerful. I am serious. I felt the author’s storytelling was solid, and heartbreaking, and funny, and solid. Oh right, I said that already.
The question being posed is a strong one—what is the point of life and all that we fill our lives with if we are not able to use that to help others? And what happens when all we believe in fails us at the most important hour of need? These are humanistic questions wrapped up in a different package: a sixteen-year-old black belt present at a robbery and the fallout.
Honestly, as much as I loved the plot and the author’s storytelling (and have a box of tissue if you are a bit of a crier like myself), for me the strength with this book is the character of Imogen. I loved her, and I felt the author did a strong job with her development.
When we meet her, she is lost. Her experience has dug down into her core. This is not just a traumatic event. It is an event she feels as if she could have prevented with her black belt skills. That is a lot to take on at her age, but she does nevertheless.
As readers, we experience her fallout. Her breakdown. Her struggle to remember and comprehend. Her pulling away from those who love and want to help her the most. We spiral into self-destruction with her, and I loved every moment of it. At times it was difficult to read because the hurt she felt was in her soul, and there seemed to be no other character that could help her. That was what I really liked about the development of her character. It’s a reminder to readers that terrible things happen in life. Those things are out of our control. In the end, we cannot carry the weight and responsibility of the world on our shoulders. We are responsible for ourselves and our own actions, and those who cause harm in the world are responsible for theirs. No one expects us to heal overnight, but it’s important to remember those who love and cherish us—and to open the door to them.
In Imogen’s case, she closes more doors that she opens. She must deal with this as well, and again, it was an element I truly enjoyed about her character.
While Imogen is dealing with her trauma, she is not alone. She was not alone in that diner. There was another under the table. A male whom she did not know and is starting to believe was not real. But he is, and he is struggling to deal with the experience as well.
Ricky. Oh Ricky. I just loved his character. The two of them are drawn together because of a shared commonality, the trauma of the robbery. Ricky is good for Imogen because he accepts her as she is, and he understands. He understands what she is feeling because he was there too, but he deals with it much differently.
His character is a nice contrast to Imogen. He keeps her level-headed, real, and full of life. He celebrates her black belt status by wanting to learn from her, and he wants nothing more than her companionship. That was so refreshing, not just for me as a reader but for Imogen’s character. She needs someone like Ricky in her corner, reminding her of who she really is and what makes her special and worthy.
What I enjoy about Ricky’s character is that he takes Imogen as she is, “damaged” goods and all. He breathes life into her not because she needs a boyfriend but because she needs someone who understands her and her trauma. And Ricky does. He does not push her, he does belittle her feelings, he is just there. He learns from her, talks to her, kisses her.
Yes, kisses are good too, and this book needed them because there were enough tears to go around. Ricky provided that, but it was in no way over the top. It was just in the right moments when it was as if the reader needed a kiss too. Is that weird?
I cannot forget Imogen’s family.
Her brother Hunter reminded me of a slick Ferris Bueller. He is popular with all of the kids, but most especially with the ladies. As a matter of fact, he seems to prefer those who are friends with Imogen, according to her, and this causes a riff within their relationship as well as with some of her “friends.” This is a constant struggle with her character as well, trying to be sixteen and have a normal life with girl friends when Hunter is her brother.
Her parents are a bit absentee (which is needed in YA because, honestly, sometimes parents just get in the way of the storytelling) but they are still there. They are a necessity to the plot for several reasons. Imogen’s father serves as a catalyst for a bit of her pent up hostility because of his lack of care for himself. She seems to have little use for her mother as well not because she is a bad mother but because she is failing Imogen when she needs her mother the most. We see this struggle throughout the novel, and I like that the author brought this element full circle. I was afraid she would forget and not allow for closure for readers, but she does.
I think I just told you all the reasons why I not only enjoyed this book but Imogen as well. I told you I loved her character. She is dark and twisty. I am dark and twisty. I really felt the depth of where the author was taking the story, and I hope when you pick this up and read it that you experience the same.
What the author has given is a realistic story of what happens to a family when all the cards fall. It is slow at first, everything seems to move in slow motion, but in the end there is a pile that must be sorted and stacked.
This book will appeal to readers of realistic YA fiction and for those looking for strong, complex character development. It is recommended for readers 12 and older, and I agree with this recommendation.
Have you read ‘Bruised’? What's the best book you've read lately?
- The Hodgenator