Sixteen-year-old Imogen has spent the last six years demonstrating and building her strength, whether it be through winning Tae Kwon Do competitions, training as a black belt, conducting martial arts demonstrations or teaching younger people about her art. So when Imogen is unable to take action during a diner shooting, and the gunman dies, Imogen falls into a deep depression and starts to question the very beliefs she had held so dear, for so long. Little does she know, however, that the shooting was just the beginning of an incredible journey, for both herself and those around her.
"Its perfect combination of pain, hope, happiness, profundity, despair and everything in-between is something that’s rare in YA novels, and something that makes the novel particularly memorable."
The novel starts by introducing Imogen’s immediate troubles and emotions, as well as an in-depth look into her character, thinking and personality. Specifically, you see how almost all of the stress and problems in Imogen’s life start to crash on her all at once and how the poor girl reacts. Lucky for Imogen, however, she also has the support of Ricky, the boy who was with Imogen in the diner and with whom she eventually develops a sweet romance.The overall story, though, is mostly more of a detailed, emotional and moving tale of Imogen’s recovery and growth.
However, that’s not to say that BRUISED is solely about Imogen. In fact, by the end of the novel, you have also experienced the strained attempt of Imogen’s best friend, Shelly, to reconnect with Imogen and deal with past mistakes and guilt, as well as Ricky’s conflict when trying to heal Imogen. There’s also a theme of family, as you experience the immense pressure and gradual breakdown of Hunter, Imogen’s older and dashing brother, and the eventual restoration of the relationship between Imogen and her parents. Even Grant, who is portrayed as a tireless bully in the beginning of the book, had a somewhat profound and emotional impact on the story.
Personally, I fell in love with all of the characters in BRUISED and how each of them struggled to heal themselves and those around them. Imogen, though not the easiest character to care about in the beginning, eventually showed an immeasurable amount of strength and maturity. Each of the side characters’ own journeys were profound, added emotion to the story and demonstrated that a tragedy never only affects one person. And most importantly, BRUISED was a novel that really made me think and learn about the importance of family, forgiveness and strength.
In conclusion, BRUISED is a novel that I feel every reader, especially contemporary fiction fans, should consider picking up. Its perfect combination of pain, hope, happiness, profundity, despair and everything in-between is something that’s rare in YA novels, and something that makes the novel particularly memorable.
Reviewed by Rachael W. on April 18, 2013