Bruised by Sarah Skilton



Author: Sarah Skilton
Published March 5, 2013 by Amulet/Abrams

Goodreads Summary: Imogen has always believed that her black belt in Tae Kwon Do made her stronger than everyone else–more responsible, more capable. But when she witnesses a holdup in a diner, she freezes. The gunman is shot and killed by the police. And it’s all her fault.

Now she’s got to rebuild her life without the talent that made her special and the beliefs that made her strong. If only she could prove herself in a fight–a real fight–she might be able to let go of the guilt and shock. She’s drawn to Ricky, another witness to the holdup, both romantically and because she believes he might be able to give her the fight she’s been waiting for.

But when it comes down to it, a fight won’t answer Imogen’s big questions: What does it really mean to be stronger than other people? Is there such a thing as a fair fight? And can someone who’s beaten and bruised fall in love?

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Imogen is broken and she must overcome this feeling of hopelessness that surrounds her constantly. What an intense way to introduce us to a character? We then go on a journey with Imogen as she tries to rebuild her life, her memories, her friendships, and her family.

At first I struggled with this book because the timeline was choppy, and Imogen was hard to pinpoint. But then, through the flashbacks, Imogen starts to become clearer to us, the reader, and Imogen’s memories start to become clearer to her. Then you are so sucked into wanting to know everything, and you can only know everything if you stick with the book and see Imogen’s memories as they are revealed. This is a pretty brilliant tactic in making the reader feel like they are in the protagonist’s brain.

Bruised actually reminds me a lot of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Both young ladies are thrown into a tragedy, let that tragedy eat away at their hearts and souls, and have to figure out how to find themselves again. Truly a remarkable journey to go on with a character.  And, like Speak, there are some intense topics/themes dealt with in Bruised that will definitely grab a teen’s attention: sibling rivalry, a disabled parent, disconnected family, friendship, sex, love, survival, and martial arts. It is one of those books that teens need to read, so they can learn to become resilient and to overcome whatever is in their path.

Discussion Questions: Is it ever okay to lie?; Would you have been able to forgive your best friend if she’d done what Shelly did?; Was it right of Imogen to call Grant down during the demonstration?; Why was having Ricky there such an important part of Imogen’s recovery?

We Flagged: “Don’t you recognize me?” says Ricky after a moment.
Confused, I force myself to look up from the floor, up his legs and along his body, until I’m looking him in the eyes.
I hear gunshots, the cashier crying, and the police sirens, but I don’t look away.
He’s my friend from under the table.” (p. 60)

“Today, eleven days later, I slide down the wall of my own shower and curl up in a ball, tuck my knees under my chin, and wrap my arms around my head. I’ve taken showers since the diner, but this one’s different. Get smaller. Small as you can be. Low to the ground is comforting, standing up is bad. Why is standing up bad? What happins if you stand up? (You don’t want to know.) Reset button. Start at the beginning. Gretchen’s in the bathroom when the gunman comes in. I see the glint of his gun, and I hide under the table. There’s Ricky, under a different table, he brings his finger to his lips. Shh…” (p. 95-96)

Read This If You Loved: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Stained by Cheryl Rainfield, Rape Girl by Alina Klein

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