Author: Sarah Skilton
Publication Date: 3.5.2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths.
In Bruised, Sarah Skilton is set to take the YA world by storm. In this incredible debut she brings a powerhouse combination of emotion, romance, and action that left me breathless and reeling and utterly wrecked in the best way possible..
When we first meet Imogen she is in a state of shock, left bereft after the events that have transpired in the diner. There is no build-up, no warming to this character—Skilton bravely thrusts her into the spotlight having just survived an unthinkable ordeal. I loved that I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of who Imogen was prior to the shooting. All I got was the brokenness and confusion that came seconds after everything went down, and from there I got to watch Imogen rebuild and grow.
I can’t say enough about Imogen. Through a few flashbacks you get the gist that while she wasn’t the most popular girl in school; she had this confidence that was unshakable due to her devotion to martial arts. I love that Skilton didn’t romanticize Tae Kwon Do. The sport requires absolute dedication and discipline, and only a handful of people can thrive under the rigorous demands of it. It’s not flowery ceremonies or tough guys who can’t be hurt and Imogen isn’t a girl who quickly bounces back. It takes time for her to recover.
While this book is a quick read, clocking in under 300 pages, there is nothing quick about Imogen’s journey. Skilton took her time with the pacing, giving her protagonist the time needed to heal and evolve. It’s not an easy road, and my heart broke for Imogen several times over, especially when she regains her memory of what really happened in the diner, but it’s a road I would gladly travel with this character. From the start I was drawn to the dual strength and vulnerability Imogen possessed.
Few books have spoken to me the way Bruised has. Yes, it is a coming of age story, of a girl finding she is not as invincible as most teens think they are, but there is a lesson here that translates across generations and social divides. It’s the story of a human being realizing that they are human and learning to accept that, and that is something I think everyone can appreciate.