Thursday, 6 June 2013
Thursday Thoughts: Book Review of Bruised by Sarah Skilton
Imogen is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She's her grandmaster's top student. Agile, strong, and confident, she has dedicated years of her life to becoming this good. Then she gets the chance to use her skills when she's involved in an attempted hold-up at a diner - and freezes completely. The gunman gets shot, and she blames herself, losing all of her confidence. What good is Tae Kwon Do in the real world if she can't bring herself to do anything with it?
This is sometimes hard to read, as Imogen falls into more and more of a downward spiral, but it's absolutely impossible to put down. I winced at times and nearly bit through my lip once when I read an especially distressing scene, but it always felt completely believable. Imogen must be one of the best narrators I've read about for ages - she's sympathetic even during the (frequent) times she's not particularly likeable. In her voice, Skilton has perfectly captured her despondency as she starts to feel that the martial art she's given much of her life to has let her down, and that her successes at Tae Kwon Do have been rendered meaningless by this one event.
Ricky - the other teen who was involved in the incident in the diner - is a great love interest, but the best thing about Bruised is probably the brilliantly captured relationships between Imogen and the rest of her family. Older brother Hunter initially seems to be a shallow jerk who just wants to have sex with Imogen's friends, but as the book goes on he becomes a really compelling character to read about. Even more fascinating, perhaps, is Imogen's father, who is now in a wheelchair, causing Imogen to see him completely differently, and raising some devastating questions for her.
Tackling themes of violent crime, responsibility, disability, friendship, family and bullying, this is my favourite teen contemporary book of the year so far, and one of the best YA debuts of recent years - right up there with The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and Pantomime by Laura Lam. Oh, and it's also possibly edged out You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett for the best ending of the year so far.
Absolutely massive recommendation, as you'll no doubt have worked out by now.