Damage by Eve Ainsworth is the second book of hers that I’ve read (the first being Seven Days) so judging by the title and her other novel, I started this book with a small inkling of what to expect. This book is about a girl named Gabi who after dealing with the death of her grandfather turns to self-harm as a way of coping. Like Ainsworth’s other novel, she doesn’t sugar-coat teenage-hood, things don’t instantly get better, but that’s life, and sometimes it takes a while for things to get better.
To date this is the second book that I’ve read on self-harm (the first being ‘The Manifesto on how to be Interesting’ by Holly Bourne), and personally I feel that it’s good that more books are covering the topic of self-harm. So, kudos to Ainsworth for covering such a sensitive topic.
Before I get any further into this review I would strongly caution people against reading this book if they self-harm or if they are in recovery as this book could be slightly triggering.
The book itself, whilst I enjoyed it and appreciate that it’s a difficult topic to write about, was too short and by the end of it I had a lot of unanswered questions, and I would’ve liked to have a deeper insight as to why Gabi self-harmed, and what she and her parents were planning to do to help her at the end of the book. Personally I would’ve preferred if this book had more of a conclusion rather than being open-ended.
Also, another bit of this book that really annoyed me was Gabi’s treatment of her mum, she’s really disrespectful of her mum which really bothered me (and before you all yell at me, I know teenagers can be disrespectful to their parents, but Gabi’s treatment of her mother was horrible), what parent lets her kid get away with yelling and throwing boxes at them? One thing that I would’ve liked to see in the ending was Gabi apologising to her mother, especially when said mother was trying her hardest.
Whilst I thought that Gabi posting on an online forum was a good way to help her cope and talk to people, I felt like it would’ve been worthwhile to include some of the responses in the book. Whilst the responses are mentioned in passing, it would’ve been good to see if the messages helped Gabi. I felt like the idea of including forums but then not showing what impact they had meant that they were under used in the book.
I also wish that this book had been longer, the ending was very open ended and although I think this made sense for the book, I would’ve also liked some closure on some of the things that were only mentioned in passing. I would’ve liked to hear more about Freddie’s family life and Fliss’ backstory however they were only mentioned in passing and by the end of the novel there was no real reason to include it at all.
Final thoughts, overall I would rate this book 3/5 stars, whilst I thought that the subject matter was covered well, I think that due to the length of the book Ainsworth missed the opportunity to include counselling, which in turn would’ve given the readers more closure.
I also thought it was good how they were some links to useful organizations at the back of the book which I will include here:
Young Minds: www.youngminds.org..uk
The Wish Centre: www.thewishcentre.org.uk