Bruised by Tanya Boteju
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Why I love this book: It's safe to say that I'm not sure if I loved this book or not. Which isn't to say that this isn't a great book, it is, it truly is an amazing book. However, some books are like a window to another world, they let you hop out of your own space and explore new worlds... and then there are books that are more like a mirror and reflect back to you experiences you've already had, even the ones you don't always like to see. For me, Bruised is a mirror.
Daya is at the center of this story and she is dealing with the aftermath and trauma of her parents death. Her world has been completely upended and she doesn't quite know where she fits anymore. One thing she knows for sure is that causing herself physical pain gives her a level of control over her hurt that she doesn't normally have, and so she seeks out opportunities to get bruised. The bulk of the story finds her diving into the world of Roller Derby, and while she thinks this will just be an opportunity to get out her pain and anger, it also leaves her open to building new relationships, which she may or may not be ready for.
Here's where Bruised really hit me hard. Like Daya I use physical pain to deal, I've been known to punch a wall, hit a desk, or land a swift kick into the end of a bookshelf. That sharp pang of pain taking my mind off of whatever else is hurting. It's often a physical manifestation of emotional pain or anger, it offers me (and Daya) a level of control that we don't always have. Daya looks to channel her hurt into Roller Derby, I kickbox, which allows me to blow off steam without actaully hurting anyone. Like Daya in the Derby, once upon a time I was a bruiser on my soccer teams, my need for that contact channeled into punishing the other team (and myself) by getting as physical as possible, sometimes outside the bounds of the rules of the game. In fact, when I returned from college to play in an adult league, the first thing that happened was that I was pulled aside by a referee and made to sign a contract agreeing that I wouldn't get into any fights, wouldn't hurt anyone, and that I acknowledged that if I did I would be kicked out, no second chances. after 5 years my reputation still held. It's not something I'm proud of, but in and of itself, it was a coping mechanism that worked, until it didn't.
Seeing that reflected back at me on the page was tough to read, but also really, really nice. It's not often that we look at the different coping mechanisms in an honest way, because it's not pretty. It is however, really important, because it's common for people to find something that works for them, even if it isn't actually healthy. I don't know that I would say I loved this book, because it shines a spotlight on the things about myself that I don't particularly love, but this book is pretty amazing and I think it's one of those books that everyone should read, especially if you work with teens/young adults because it will give you some serious incite into trauma responses and coping mechanisms. Plus there is a lot of fun and humor along the way as well!
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