What I found bizarre about this book was that I hated the writing style for the majority of the novel, it was written in present tense as if someone is watching from the sidelines (so you feel very removed from the situation). Although it proved very effective in the emotional heart-wrenching sections of the novel, it made the flow of the novel very stilted and it took me a while to get involved in the novel. But most bizarre was that Suzuma's handle of the language is amazing and so whilst hating the way she writes it I love what she writes! Needless to say I was experiencing pretty conflicting emotions as I read this book!
The plot itself was simple but extremely effective, poignant and captivating. Matheo is tipped to represent Britain in the Olympics next year, he is a world class diver, extremely young and talented, he has an amazing girlfriend, a popular life in school with supportive, rich and smart friends. He has it all until something happens the night after he wins the Nationals and suddenly his perfect world seems full of cracks and Matheo is spiralling downwards into madness, depression and fear. Matheo is now hiding a secret so terrible it could destroy everything, but by keeping it hidden it, in turn, is destroying him.
Revealing his secret would ruin the essence of the novel, Suzuma builds the tension and hypersensitive emotional situation around the hidden secret, the fact the reader is always guessing, and when it is revealed it creates a emotional rollercoaster that left me in tears. And so it is an adventure, a ride, each reader must take for themselves as unaware of what will happen as Matheo himself, as otherwise it will end in an anticlimax; and Suzuma specialises in bringing the novel to a teetering pinpoint of emotions, as the world as we saw it, as events we hear of and don't dare dwell on, crumbles and we are forced into someone else's shoes and we realise that shame, guilt, fear is so wrongly present in the victims when they are really not to blame, yet they cannot believe they are not responsible for what has happened to them.
Suzuma expertly portrays a troubling issue with a sensitivity that stresses the cruel, destructive, violating nature of the secret poor Matheo is hiding because of fear and shame. I will definitely revisit Hurt as it is a book I think that will get better on a second read though there's no denying it was a whirlwind of emotions even on this first read. Hurt gets a conflicted 5 out of 5, I couldn't decide whether the halting narrative would mean it deserves a 4 but I think on the whole it was a pretty stunning book of gigantic emotional dimensions!
It's published by Bodley Head, a division of Random House Childrens Book UK and can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk for £9.09 (hardback) and £8.54 (Kindle).
En Bon Lu! SWMLT.