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.
Bruised is an emotionally powerful story that covers subjects like guilt, family, and love. The characters are fully developed, and the story explores their relationships gracefully.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
Imogen is a fantastic main character. She has taken Tae Kwon Do for years, and she expects it to help her in real-life situations. When she doesn't stop a holdup at a diner by a gunman, she feels like Tae Kwon Do has failed her, or maybe like she's failed Tae Kwon Do. The police come into the diner, and they end up shooting and killing the gunman. Imogen takes a unique perspective on the situation by feeling like she failed the gunman. She says if she had used her martial arts to stop him, the police wouldn't have had to shoot him. Throughout the book, she has to deal with her guilt, and sometimes she doesn't deal with it in very healthy ways.
This book explores familial relationships in Imogen's family. There's the sibling relationship between Imogen and her older brother, Hunter. Their relationship has been rocky ever since Hunter slept with Imogen's friend Shelly at Imogen's birthday party. Since that happened, she hasn't trusted Hunter with any of her friends, and she stopped being friends with Shelly. Imogen also has trouble in her relationship with her father. He has gotten diabetes and can only get around in a wheelchair, and she struggles to accept him that way. She often just wants him to turn back into who he was before he had the disease. She has to work hard to come to terms with accepting him as he is now.
The romance in this book is sweet and develops slowly. When the gunman came into the diner, Imogen wasn't the only customer hiding under the table. There was a boy there as well, hiding under a table nearby. Imogen finds out that his name is Ricky, and he's a senior at her school. Their relationship starts out with her teaching him how to fight. She wants him to learn so she can have a one-on-one fight against someone, or, that is, Ricky. As they get in to know each other, their relationship becomes a romance. They have a few problems along the way, and their relationship certainly isn't easy, but they make it work.
If you like YA contemporary, read this book.