blood wounds

Released September 12, 2011.

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Willa’s life may not be perfect, she lives in a blended family with sisters who get their expensive hobbies and trips paid for by their mother, while Willa doesn’t get those opportunities.  Their family is happy though.  Of course, there’s a reason that Willa feels the need to cut, so maybe things aren’t as good as they seem.  Then one day, with a series of murders in a faraway state, Willa’s life is thrown into crisis.  Her biological father is on the run after killing his wife and children, and he’s probably headed to get Willa next.  As the crisis throws their life into turmoil, Willa discovers more about her family than she’d ever known, including secrets that answer a lot of the questions she’s never dared to ask.

Pfeffer has created a book that starts with a thrilling premise but that turns out to be less of a thriller and more of a psychological look at a teen girl who has to deal with the aftermath of her father’s madness.  Willa is a very intriguing and complex heroine.  She struggles to be the perfect daughter, never revealing what she really thinks to her family.  On the inside though she is filled with doubts, with unvoiced thoughts, and with resentment.  With her father’s murders her life begins to reflect more of her inner world, becoming just as confused and tumultuous. 

The writing here is very well crafted.  With so many themes: blended families, cutting, murder and forgiveness, it could have become muddled.  Instead the themes support one another, creating a tapestry of interwoven ideas that strengthen one another. 

Readers will pick the book up for the thrilling premise and then be riveted as they discover a much more complicated read than they were expecting.  Appropriate for ages 13-15.

Reviewed from ARC received from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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