Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Blood Wounds, by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I have mixed feelings about Blood Wounds. I enjoyed the story, but felt like the characters were really cardboard and emotionless. But the more I read, I think they were SUPPOSED to be that way—that’s part of the story.  Let me try to explain.

Willa’s life is just great. She has a perfect, loving, blended family. Her mother is married to Jack, who has two daughters, Alyssa and Brooke. They all live together in a nice house, and have dinner together on Wednesdays, even though they are very busy. You see, Alyssa is a very good tennis player, and Brooke rides horses, and is involved in sports. Terri, Willa’s mom, doesn’t work so that she can help get the girls to all their lessons and events. Willa enjoys singing in the school choir. They are just one big happy family.

But, there’s more to this family. There’s the fact that Val, the stepdaughters’ mother, pays for all of their lessons and part of the mortgage, because she’s rich and her job involves a lot of travel. She is always sending the girls presents, taking them on trips, and buying them things. Jack loves Willa like his own daughter, but can’t provide the things that his own daughters have. Even after years of this, Willa and Terri have never complained about the unfairness of this situation.

Willa is just too perfect. She’s always loving and never complains. There is never an argument in the house – Terri knows that Jack doesn’t like conflict, and there’s no way she can lose him, so she’s always happy and agreeable too. Things that would cause most teens to erupt just don’t seem to faze Willa. Part of the reason is because Willa cuts herself. She has very strict rules about how often and for what reason, and so far she’s been able to keep it under control, but sometimes it’s the only thing that helps her deal with this plastic life. It’s like there’s a glass bubble over the family waiting to be shattered. And it does get shattered. 

The “shattering” involves Willa’s biological father, Budge, and he enters her life in a very violent way. Willa has never known much about her real family or her mom’s home town because Terri has never wanted to discuss it. So part of Willa’s experience is finding out about her heritage, and Terri’s realizing that the life she is leading isn’t the perfect life she has pretended to have.

Pfeffer reveals the story expertly. We slowly see things fall apart—the shields come down, and we realize what kind of life this family really has. Then we see them begin to put their lives back together in a more healthy way.  It’s a good story about family.  Sometimes a bit over dramatic, and sometimes the characters felt very flat, but I think teen girls would enjoy this problem novel.

Published by Harcourt, September 12, 2011
ARC received for review from Banned Book Tours
248 pages

Rating: 3/5


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  1. It does sound like something teens would enjoy. Nice review!

    Beth ^_^

  2. Hum. Well, while it doesn't sound like my cup of tea, I'm thinking you're right -- I can totally see my girls devouring this one. I'll probably end up adding this one to my classroom library. Thanks for a great review!
    Mary @ BookSwarm

  3. I agree with quite a bit of what you said here- but I don't think the lack of any and all depth was intentional. This is easily one of the worst, most poorly done Contemporary/issue books I've ever come across, and I can't think of a single person I'd recommend it to. :(


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