Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Harcourt Children's
Publish Date: September 12, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.
Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.
Willa's memories begin with Jack, Alyssa and Brooke joining her family. Her memories begin with her mother and she learning to love three new family members. And her memories always include Brooke and Alyssa having more than she does because their wealthy mother provides for them. Willa's never quite fit in with it all, despite the facade of love and family, and when her birth father commits a brutal act of murder, she's forced to face a past she doesn't remember. Willa must face the wake of devastation caused by her own blood, mourn those lost and come to terms with her own inner turmoil or lose even the shred of a family she has forever.
Before I do my review, I should premise it by saying that the synopsis for Blood Wounds doesn't accurately describe the book. Yes, the book involves a brutal crime, but that's only a portion of the story. Susan Beth Pfeffer has done it again. Blending heart-wrenching emotion with pain, loss and turmoil, Blood Wounds is a powerful novel grappling with a plethora of difficult issues. Written from Willa's point of view, we're given a firsthand look into the mind of a scared, confused and lost teen who is desperate to understand her past so she can make sense of her future. Written with vivid, haunting descriptions, Blood Wounds makes the reader mourn for loss, hope for the future and want the very best for Willa.
I was actually surprised to find that Blood Wounds wasn't all about Willa's father coming after she and her mother. Honestly, I thought the whole thing was going to be them in hiding, but that was truly just the setup for the book, and I found that rich and intriguing. It threw me for a loop, and I was riveted as I watched Willa learn to step outside of the safe shell she'd learned to create around herself over the years. She began to assert herself as she felt the ties to a family she'd never really know pull at her heartstrings. She started to grow up, and it was powerful to watch. Occasionally, I felt her character's voice slipped a bit and became that of the author's but overall, she was superbly done. I also really loved the added twist of Jack's, Willa's stepfather's, dynamic in the familial relationship. Blood Wounds really delved into the psychology of broken homes and how people gravitate to certain dynamics, which was intriguing. I felt that, perhaps, Willa's stepsisters could have been fleshed out a bit more so their emotions rang as true, but overall, they worked as they were. I am a bit unsatisfied with the ending because I felt it was suddenly all nice and tied in bows, but I do like that it is a stand-alone, so I will give it that.
All in all, Blood Wounds was an intense, dark and moving read. Edging into the darker realm of YA fiction, I give it a very strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA and adult books, as well as those who enjoy dark stories. There are a few fairly graphic and violent scenes, so please bear that in mind.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.