Willow Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Willow

This story is about a teenage girl dealing with the death of her parents by causing physical pain to herself. Willow follows the life of a teenaged girl also named Willow after the sudden death of both her parents. The only way Willow knows how to cope is by cutting herself and physical pain she can control.
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Willow moves in with her brother, a college professor named David, his wife, and their new baby girl. She is also sent to a new school where she believes that everyone knows that she was driving the car that killed her parents and thinks she is a murder. At the start of the novel, Willow is obsessing over a cut on the arm of a girl sitting next to her, wondering if it is self-inflicted like her own. This mentality causes Willow to act awkwardly in class and convinced that the girls sitting next to her are gossiping about how she is a “murderer,” she rushes to the bathroom to find her release through the razor.

After her bathroom session, Willow makes it to her part-time job at the college library—her brother had pulled a lot of strings for her to work there. However, instead of putting all her effort into working, Willow is distracted by the guilt she feels for messing up her brother's perfect life. Willow and David have found it impossible to talk about their emotions following their parents' death, leaving Willow feeling isolated. She believes David resents her. Cathy, David's wife, has gone out of her way to make Willow feel welcome in their home, but Willow feels far from welcome. Willow also feels jealous toward her infant niece, Isabelle. Whenever Willow sees David kiss or cuddle his daughter, Willow is forced to face the fact that she will never be anyone's daughter again.

Then, she meets Guy at the college library. Guy is a handsome young man in the same grade as Willow and she helps him find the books he needs for his research project. Guy tries to find out more about Willow, but she assumes he only wants information to gossip about with his friends. Therefore, she tries to send him away by saying she killed her parents. However, the next time Guy sees Willow, he is as friendly as ever and even offers to buy her coffee. Scatterbrained, Willow hurriedly tries to leave, but Guy pulls her arm and everything in her book bag, including her blades, fall out. At first, Guy doesn't get it. Then he notices the blood seeping through Willow's shirt from where he grabbed her and looks at the blades and he puts it together. Willow and Guy stare at each other in silence before Guy makes up his mind about what he is going to do.

Guy proceeds to run to David's office, knowing he's Willow's brother, and Willow runs after him. They run into the building, climbing stairs, and Willow manages to grab Guy's hand. Instead of stopping him, Guy is much stronger and pulls Willow along with him. They show up hand in hand at David's office. Guy knocks on the door, and David opens it. David looks at the two teenagers, and their hands, and assumes the situation is that the two are in a relationship. Guy stands speechless and David tells them he'll be back in just a moment. During this interval, Willow convinces Guy that he cannot tell David or else David would be ruined. And so, Guy keeps the secret, but he cannot stop thinking about Willow after that day. As unhappy as he is, he makes it his mission to help her. Days later he meets her back at the library, trying to figure out why she copes the way she does. At the end of their conversation, he gives Willow his number with the hope that she'd call him first before she cut the next time. Willow doesn't think she would ever call him, but after having a fight with David and Cathy, she dials Guy's number and listens to his voice while she cuts. The next day, Guy shows up at Willow's house. They both cut school, get breakfast at a diner, and walk around the park. When it starts to rain, they visit a museum and the two come close to kissing, but Willow cannot let herself feel anything but pain. Guy grows irritated and they silently go back to Willow's home. A few days later, after Willow leaves a get together with Guy and his friends with the excuse of a headache, and she ends up home where she has to take care of her sick niece while Cathy goes to the store to pick up medicine. Willow tries to feed her niece but gets lost in her thoughts and ends up burning a plate of eggs. Guy shows up and helps her, then David comes home from work and takes care of Isabelle. Then, Willow and Guy go to Willow's room. In Willow's room they argue over how Willow has only been a project to Guy and that he could leave if he wanted to, but Willow reveals that she would miss him terribly and Guy convinces her that she is not just his charity project. Later, Guy takes Willow back to the scene of the accident where she cries for the first time and they go back to her old home where they make love to each other.

Not only does Willow grow close to Guy, but she grows close with his friends as well. With his help, she learns how to deal with the emotional pain instead of bypassing it through physical pain. Although she does not tell David that she cuts herself, she is able to discuss the accident with him, a discussion that revealed that David still loved Willow as much as he did before the accident. Ultimately, although many good things happened to Willow, she is still unsure about giving up her blades. She doesn't know whether she'll go buy new ones, but Willow tosses a box of blades into the river with the help of Guy, symbolizing the start of their new life together.
Best part of story, including ending: I like how relatable the story is. Anyone going through a similar situation as Willow can find solace in her story.

Best scene in story: There is a scene in the book where Guy and Willow are in Willow's room. Guy is reprimanding Willow for rudely leaving the park where they were hanging out with friends. He accuses Willow of avoiding him and she states that it's complicated. She calls Guy complicated and difficult. This causes Guy to blow up, telling Willow that she isn't so easy to deal with either. She tries to save herself, saying that she thought that they might have had fun along the way, which only makes Guy more mad. He yells at Willow, explaining how screwed up his life has been since he met her, using vulgar language along the way. So Willow tells him that he never had to stay, he could just leave. But then Guy says he wouldn't want her on his conscience. Willow responds coldly, saying that she doesn't want to be his project and tells him that he should go back doing whatever he was doing before he met her. "Don't worry about me anymore," she says. She tells him all the reasons he should leave, but she finally reveals that if he were gone, she'd miss him. It was the first time Willow had explained her feelings toward him. Guy immediately softens up after that and tells her that she's not his project and he doesn't want to go anywhere else. It was simply beautiful.

Opinion about the main character: Willow is very creative. She likes to think, enjoys books, and is very intelligent. Like her parents who studied ancient civilizations, Willow wanted to answer questions that could not be answered with evidence. She described it to Guy as wanting to know the answer of why someone created the first mirror.

The review of this Book prepared by Alyssa White a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Willow

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Coping with loss of loved one(s)    -   Yes Loss of...    -   parents

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Age:    -   a teen Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () City?    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Willow

Julia Hoban Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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