Author: Eve Ainsworth
UK Release Date: 2nd March 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental Health
Trigger warning: self-harm.
How can you heal if you can’t face your past? Confident, popular Gabi has a secret – a secret so terrible she can’t tell her family, or her best friend. She can’t even take pleasure in her beloved skateboarding any more. And then one day an impulse turns to something darker. Gabi has never felt so alone. But then she learns that not everyone has wounds you can see. A searing look at self-harm and acceptance from hugely talented author Eve Ainsworth. Warning: includes content that some readers may find upsetting.
-> Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy of this book for review!
When I heard at the Scholastic Bloggers’ Book Feast that Eve Ainsworth was writing another book, I was so excited to read it as her two other novels, 7 Days and Crush, tackled different teenage problems with sensitivity and made them accessible to a variety of readers. I couldn’t wait to get started when a copy of Damage arrived for me in the mail from the lovely people at Scholastic, and I actually read it as part of my March TBR, but finished it before I’d even had the chance to post my TBR on my blog (oops?). I think this is just a testament to how gripping and important this book is.
Obviously, some of the main themes in this book are mental health and self-harm. While I would definitely advise reading this book with caution (or not at all) if you think the topic of self-harm would be triggering for you, for those who are looking to learn more about the issue this is an exceptionally important book. I think it really allows you to see more about the thoughts behind self-harm, and the emotional difficulties that would prompt someone to start self-harming. I knew before I started reading Damage that Ainsworth has a background in pastoral care, so I was confident that it would be an accurate representation. People need to be educated about the nature of mental health problems, and this is definitely a book that I think will go on to help people understand others a little bit more.
I loved the protagonist, Gabi; I thought she was a really complex character. At times I didn’t like her as she could be a bit mean to her mother, but most of the time I really felt for her – also, I grew to understand the feelings behind her negative attitude towards her mother. I liked how Gabi’s problems started to become clearer as the book progressed and different elements of her emotions were exposed. The ending was rather open and non-specific, but it felt true to the nature of the story.
Gabi’s hobby and friendship group were also an aspect of the book that really interested me. Some of her friends had a very negative view about self-harm, which only augmented Gabi’s feelings of isolation, as she felt as if she could not tell her friends. I thought this was such an important aspect to include, as it shows the entirely misplaced stigmas around self-harm. I also liked how ultimately her friends were worried about her – despite their misplaced opinions, they could see Gabi was suffering, and wanted to help her.
Overall, I think Damage is such an important and topical book that talks about a really current problem today. I will definitely be recommending it, and I cannot wait to see what Eve Ainsworth writes next!