Saturday 26 October 2013

'Hurt' by Tabitha Suzuma

It's difficult to write a review of this without giving away the story. Mathéo is a talented diver training for the Olympics, is popular, wealthy, and has a beautiful girlfriend. It seems like he has it pretty good, and then, one weekend, everything changes. He comes back from a diving competition knowing he's done something terrible but with no recollection of what. All he knows is that it has changed him forever.

He becomes withdrawn and moody, and even violent on occasions, confusing those closest to him. I've never found an author who writes emotion as well as Suzuma, she draws you in to the thoughts and the feelings of the characters so that you feel it with them. Mathéo's growing sense of isolation and frustration is wonderfully constructed. There's also the juxtaposition of his relationship with his family, one where he rarely spends time with his parents, and the times where the family get together are tense and stressful, and that of his girlfriend Lola's with her father, a loving, comfortable relationship. And that's not to mention the chemistry between Mathéo and Lola. Even though it becomes strained and confusing due to his terrible secret, the love is palpable.

There are two big reveals in this book, the second certainly took me completely by surprise. Suzuma keeps you guessing for most of the book, and it hits hard when all finally becomes clear. Her books should come with a warning - likely to break your heart. She yet again had me in tears (so maybe not one to read in public). I urge everyone to read her books; they draw you in and play with your emotions, and if you haven't discovered her yet, you're missing out. In saying that, I don't think Hurt is her strongest book (but that's no great criticism as some of her others rank amongst my all-time favourites). Some of the descriptions and metaphors are repeated a bit too often, and because you don't know what's going on with Mathéo for most of the novel there's a slight block to the reader's connection with him. It's still definitely worth a read; Suzuma deals with issues that don't often come up in YA fiction in an honest, considered manner, and although Hurt has a slightly different style and structure to her other novels, it's brilliant and moving, and oh so very emotive.

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