Blood Woundsby Susan Beth Pfeffer
Blood can both wound and heal . . .
Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east/p>
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Blood can both wound and heal . . .
Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother. Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? But as Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she also keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear apart all she holds dear.
"The sheer drama of the plot will draw readers, and they’ll stay for an insightful exploration of the way families go both right and wrong."Bulletin
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read an Excerpt
I think even if nothing had happened the next day, even if my life had stayed just as it was that night at supper, I’d still remember what Jack said. He has that way of startling me by saying something totally unexpected but then, when I think about it, something that makes perfect sense, something I should have known all along.
We were all at the supper table. It was Wednesday night, and Wednesday nights we eat together. Jack has Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, but we could never manage two nights in a row. Mom’s committed to completing her bachelor’s degree, so she takes a couple of classes during the day and one or two at night. Brooke always has something: lacrosse, dressage, violin, not to mention her dozens of friends. Alyssa has tennis plus the swimming and yoga she uses for cross-training. And I keep busy enough too, with choir and the occasional school play.
But Wednesday nights we eat together. Jack does the shopping and the cooking, and whoever is around pitches in to help. This time Alyssa made the salad and Brooke set the table. I had a choir rehearsal and got home only a few minutes before suppertime.
I wouldn’t remember any of that if everything hadn’t changed the next day. But I’m sure I would remember what Jack said.
Mom was telling us about her nineteenth-century literature class. Mom wants to be a fourth grade teacher, and fourth grade teachers don’t need to know much about nineteenth-century literature, but it’s always bothered her that Jack’s so well read and she isn’t. And Val, Brooke and Alyssa’s mother, who lives in Orlando, sends them lots of books, current bestsellers mostly, but sometimes a classic she thinks they should read.
"Have you decided what you’re going to do your paper on, Terri?" Brooke asked Mom.
Mom took a bite of the tilapia and shook her head. "I’d like to do it on Jane Eyre," she said. "But my professor said she’s read too many papers on Jane Eyre and we have to pick something else. She said not enough students write papers on War and Peace, but I’m not even sure I’ll finish it before the final. War and Peace is awfully long."
"I don’t like long books," Alyssa said. "I think there should be a rule that books can’t be more than two hundred pages."
"There’d be a lot fewer good books with that rule," Brooke said.
"Yeah," I said. "But there’d be a lot more trees."
"You know something," Jack said, as we sat at the table, eating and laughing, "Tolstoy was wrong."
"About what?" Brooke asked, helping herself to the string beans.
"Who’s Tolstoy?" Alyssa asked.
"He wrote War and Peace," Mom said. "And a lot of other very long books. What was Tolstoy wrong about, darling?"
"He said all happy families are alike," Jack replied. "Unhappy families are all different."
"What’s wrong about that?" I asked.
"Well, look at us," Jack said. "We’re a happy family. But we’re not identical to other happy families. Happy families come in their own shapes and varieties, same as the unhappy ones."
"Are we going to stay a happy family if I go to USC?" Brooke asked.
"I thought you were going to North Carolina," I said, "and take that lacrosse scholarship."
"I haven’t decided yet," Brooke said. "So, Dad, how happy will we be if I pick USC instead?"
"North Carolina’s kind of equidistant between us and Orlando," I said. "If you go to USC, we’ll hardly ever see you."
"Brooke said she hasn’t decided yet," Mom said to me.
"I know," I said. "I heard her."
Jack looked straight at Brooke. "Have you talked to your mother about it?" he asked.
"Not yet," Brooke said. "We’ve both been too busy to talk."
"Speaking of your mother, she called today," Jack said. "There are some changes in plans for your spring vacation."
"What changes?" Alyssa asked. "She’s taking me to Brussels, right? For the tournament?"
"Dad, it was all set," Brooke said. "Terri and I were meeting Mom in Maryland for my dressage test. Then she was coming back here to take Lyss to Brussels. What happened this time?"
"First of all, I would appreciate it if you didn’t use that tone of voice when you’re talking about your mother," Jack said.
"I’m sorry, Dad," Brooke said. "But I know I’m not going to like what’s coming."
"No, it isn’t that bad," Jack said. "Your mother’s trip to Munich was postponed, so she won’t be able to come here."
"But I can still go to Brussels," Alyssa said, and I could hear the panic in her voice. "Daddy, it’s my first international tournament. I’ve got to go."
"Your mother understands that," Jack said. "So she asked her parents to fl y here. Gram will go with you and Terri to the dressage test, Brooke, and Grandy will take Alyssa to Brussels." He smiled at his daughters. "Monday, Gram and Brooke will fl y to Switzerland for a few days of skiing, then go on to Brussels, and you’ll all fl y back together."
"Mom was going to see me play," Alyssa said. "I want her to see how good I’ve gotten."
"She wants to see it too," Jack said. "She’s hoping to get to Brussels for the quarterfinals."
None of us asked what would happen if Alyssa didn’t make it to the quarters. She always did.
"Lauren’s in Europe, isn’t she?" Alyssa asked me.
Lauren is my best friend, my only real friend outside of the kids in choir. She’s spending her junior year abroad.
"Spain," I said. "Madrid."
"I was looking forward to being home for the week," Brooke said. "Have a do-nothing vacation, like Willa."
"Willa’s going to keep busy enough," Mom said. "She’ll be working on turning her B’s into A’s."
"Willa’s grades are fine," Jack said. He smiled at me. "Maybe we’ll take an overnight trip to Washington," he said. "Go to the Smithsonian. Tour the White House. What do you say, Terri? Think we could swing that?"
Mom nodded. "That sounds nice," she said.
"Good," Jack said. "It’s settled. Brooke and Alyssa with their mom and grandparents. You and Willa and me with the president."
Once, when I was eleven, before we moved so Brooke and Alyssa could live with us, Jack found me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying. He asked me what was the matter, and I told him that all the girls in sixth grade were prettier than me.
"Oh, pumpkin," Jack said. "You don’t want to waste your pretty years in middle school. Not on middle school boys. Wait until they’re ready to see how beautiful you are. High school, or even college. You can hold off until then, can’t you?"
"Will I really be pretty then?" I asked him.
Jack helped me up off the floor and hugged me. "You’ll be as pretty as you want to be," he said. "And all the boys will notice."
I’m sixteen now, and a long way from beautiful, but I’ve noticed that on days when I feel pretty, the boys in my school do seem to notice. And I’m glad I didn’t waste my pretty years on middle school.
That night, at supper, I knew we really were a happy family. Happy didn’t mean all singing and dancing. Brooke and Alyssa weren’t shy about letting Mom or Jack know when they were unhappy about something. There were battles of will, fl ashes of temper.
But I knew enough about stepfathers and stepsisters to understand how lucky we were, how hard Jack and Mom worked to make sure we knew we were part of the same family, equally loved by both of them.
It couldn’t have been easy for either of them. Jack already shared custody with Val when Mom met him. The first few years after they got married, the three of us lived in a house about an hour away from Val’s. Brooke and Alyssa spent practically every weekend with us, and Christmas vacation, and summer when they weren’t at camp or visiting their grandparents. Jack was a sports reporter for the Union Gazette, so he worked on weekends, but that didn’t matter. Brooke was busy with dressage, and Alyssa with tennis lessons, so Mom did the chauffeuring, and either I’d tag along with her or I’d go to football or basketball games with Jack. I liked it best when Brooke came with us. She’s a year older than I am, and I worshiped her. Alyssa is two years younger than I am, but she only worships other tennis players.
We were a happy family then too. We even stayed a happy family when Val got transferred for three years to Shanghai. Alyssa refused to go with her, and Brooke admitted she didn’t want to.
Jack and Mom had a lot of discussions about the situation, none of which I was supposed to hear but did anyway. Val came over a few times when Alyssa was at tennis practice and Brooke was taking her violin lesson. I made sure to eavesdrop then.
But even with all my spying, I was still shocked when Jack and Mom and Val sat us down together and explained what was going to happen. Jack and Mom were going to sell our house and buy one in Westbridge, where Brooke and Alyssa lived. That way they could continue to go to Fairhaven Academy, and Alyssa could keep her tennis coach and Brooke her violin teacher and riding academy. Mom would quit her job so that she’d be available to take Brooke and Alyssa where they needed to go (Val’s housekeeper used to do that). Jack’s commute would be a little longer, and I’d transfer to the middle school in Westbridge. It was easier for us to move than for Brooke’s and Alyssa’s lives to be disrupted.
I’d grown up with Brooke and Alyssa, and they were as close as sisters to me, but that didn’t keep me from crying that night. Mom came into my room, sat on my bed, and held my hand.
"I know this isn’t easy for you, Willa," she said. "But it would break Jack’s heart if Brooke and Alyssa went with Val to Shanghai."
"But why can’t they move here?" I cried. "Why do we have to give up everything?"
"We’re not giving up everything," Mom said. "We’re moving from one nice house to another one, and you’re changing schools. I’ll get to be a stay-at-home mom, for you and Brooke and Alyssa. Think of what the girls are giving up. They’ll only get to see Val once or twice a year for the next three years. You’ll still have Jack and me and our home together."
"But I don’t want to start a new school in February," I said. "It’s not fair."
Mom kissed me on my cheek. "Shush," she said. "You don’t want Jack to hear you, honey. He has to do what’s best for the girls. It’ll be fine. You’ll see."
I wanted to ask Mom if Jack would still love me, but even though I knew her answer would be yes, of course he would, I was too frightened to ask. Instead I did everything I could to make the move easier, and even when we all settled in together and Mom told us that Brooke would have her own room, since she was the oldest, and Alyssa and I would share, I didn’t complain. Alyssa did, loud and long, but she didn’t have to worry about losing Jack and she didn’t seem to care if she lost Mom. But Jack and Mom made it work. Jack flew with Brooke and Alyssa to Shanghai every Christmas, and Val stopped by each summer and took her daughters on vacation trips to London and Paris and Rome. Brooke left Fairhaven Academy for Westbridge High and added lacrosse to her activities. Alyssa stayed on at Fairhaven, continued with her tennis, and was ranked sixteenth nationally in her age group. Because Jack had never adopted me, my name hadn’t been changed to McDougal. Everyone at school knew Brooke McDougal, but only those kids who knew her or me well knew we were stepsisters. To everyone else, I was just Willa Coffey, reasonably pretty, with a nice voice, good grades, and a handful of friends.
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Meet the Author
Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times bestseller Life AsWe Knew It, which was nominated for more than 20 state awards, The Dead & the Gone, and This World We Live In. Pfeffer's other books include the bestselling novel The Year Without Michael and the popular Portraits of Little Women series and Kid Power, which won the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award and the Sequoyah Book Award.
Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times best-selling novel Life As We Knew It, which was nominated for several state awards, and its companion books, The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon. She lives in Middletown, New York.
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The description of this book is extremely misleading. I was hoping for a thriller. It's hardly that at all. The first couple of chapters due deal with Willa's father and the horrendous crime he committed. But, it's over so quickly that the focus quickly shifts to the aftermath. I wasn't ever really sure I liked Willa. I'm not positive the best time to get to know a character is during a crisis like this. But maybe it helps her show her true colors. At times I thought she was snippy and seemed ungrateful. But if forcing the issue was the only way to know her mother's past as well as her own, then so be it. She had been compliant for so long. She put up with her mother refusing to talk about anything and watching her stepsisters have everything handed to her on a silver spoon. I never really adjusted to the idea of a family drama instead of a thriller. I didn't mind the idea that Willa wants to go the the funeral of her stepsisters, but I disliked how she was just dropped on the doorstep of a family friend for the occasion. Her mom refused to go with her. I was also not prepared for all the her mother had been hiding from her. I think she really grew up believing one thing about her father when almost the exact opposite was true. I disliked how her lawyer told her it was ok to go to the house and take what she wanted and that the family friend practically forced her to go. I don't care that it legally is probably hers. What I did enjoy that I wish had been explored so much more were the dynamics in the new family. I think there was a lot of buried resentment that we just barely skimmed the surface of. It seemed like everything came out into the open and things were all better. I'm pretty sure things don't work like that in real life. I also didn't like the added fact that Willa cut. It just felt like an extremely unnecessary aspect to the story. Because, you know there wasn't enough going on. Overall, just a disappointing book. I really had high hopes for this one. I hope they change the description a little because I think many people be let down by it. It gives the idea that the book is about something when it isn't that way at all.
"Because that's the kinda family I come from. We're very polite. Even when people die on our doorstep, we remember to say please and thank you and excuse me. " This book completely threw me off guard, when I received this book for review I had a feeling I was gonna like it, I had no idea though that I was totally gonna love it and be completely moved by it. Willa has a perfect family, she lives with her mother, her stepfather Jack, and her two step sisters. Willa has never known her real father due to her mom running away from him with Willa when she was only a child, not that Willa cares, she has Jack who has always been a wonderful dad to her. Everyone would say Willa has the perfect family...but as they say...nothing is ever as it seems. Willa is bottling up a lot inside and she is about to boil over, her mother hardly pays attention to her, her two step sisters get everything they want from there real mom, and even though Willa would love to ask for money to get a singing coach like her choir teacher suggested, she would never dare ask..she doesn't want to upset anyone with asking..so to relieve the constant stress of staying quiet-doesn't bother anyone Willa, she cuts her skin..not often..just enough to remember she's living. As if Willa wasn't having enough stress going on with family issues, and her constant need to cut lately...her dad, her real dad is all over the news..he just murdered his wife and daughters..the cops can't find him..and now they suspect..he's on his way over to Willa, to kill her, and her mother also. "There was no point starving to death before I got to meet my father, who apparently was on his way over to kill me. " Blood Wounds was an amazing read, although this book seems like it's going to be a thriller/suspense it is more about Willa finding herself, finding out about her sisters she never got to meet, and finding out about the father who killed them. Threw out this novel I found myself feeling sorry for Willa, she was going threw so much, and no one gave her the comfort she needed. I also found myself feeling sorry for Willa because she could never speak her mind to her family, and while the rest of them were to busy trying to look like the perfect family..Willa was alone, always feeling alone and no one noticed. It was heart wrenching. I found this book very easy to read, the way Susan has written this was beautiful, I found myself just flowing threw the pages. All the emotions that Willa is feeling come off so raw and real, not a single moment did I feel things felt forced or fake, everything was just perfect as if this book were a true story threw Willa's eyes. This book is emotionally a tough book, if your looking for cute and fluffy read, you need to go else where, this book is much deeper and much more meaningful then that. After reading this book I have become a huge fan of Susan Beth Pfeffer writing, and I look forward to reading all of her past and future projects.
At first there was alot of Blah, Blah, Blah and I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue reading. I did continue and I'm glad I did. Some parts of the book were better than others but you should deffinently read it. The plot was original but not to weird. I would recommend to almost anyone.
One thing I loved about this book, is that it was not what I was expecting. There is so much to the story, so much back round, and freshness to the story that I read it quickly. The plot line of this book is what grabbed me. Here we have a girl who is thrown in a world full of secrets that she didn't know. And when all of them start spilling, she is determined to know why. Ms. Pfeffer did a great job in capturing the essence of a teenager wanting answers. I like that when I was reading this book that I was just as determined as the main character Willa, to know what happened.Through the pages, the reader discovers not only Willa growing into her self, but also coming to peace with the secrets. As you know, I love secrets. As the reader, you aren't given all the secrets at once. Which is good cause I loved the learn secrets pieces by piece. Ms. Pfeffer grabs the reader by droppings hints, then leads them to a whole other level. Having said that, these secrets aren't much enlightening, but bring more of a character to Willa and her mother. It gives these characters a great back round story of what their past was like and how they came to be. Ms. Pfeffer definitely gave her characters a uniqueness and a special shape. If you have not read this book you should. There isn't so much drama, but this book doesn't need that. The secrets the book harbors itself, the way Willa is, is a whole new discovery. As I read this, I enjoyed being in Willa shoes and fell in love with Ms. Pfeffer writing. I am looking forward to reading more of her works.
One of my students recommended this book to me, so I picked it up to read one evening without having read the book jacket. Sometimes I do this—go blindly into a book because I want to be surprised by everything. Well, imagine my surprise when Willa’s family suddenly goes on alert because her father is a murdering butcher intent on finding her! That was perhaps the last thing on my mind when I opened the book. I was thinking that perhaps it was about vampires, based on the title and the cover, but I was mistaken. This novel has nothing to do with vampires… it deals with psychopaths instead. I wasn’t immediately wrapped up in the story, but when the frantic phone call came for Willa about her estranged father, I found myself extremely alert, especially as the reports of his heinous crimes came in. Knowing that he was headed for Willa and her family, my heart began to beat extremely quickly, and I became wrapped up tight within the story. Unfortunately, the novel soon began to lose steam, in my opinion, as Willa and her sisters begin their tantrums. I must say that I was never a real fan of Willa or her step-sisters. There was a lot of animosity there, and they behaved quite horribly on many an occasion. And, while I do respect Willa’s curiosity about her father’s side of the family, I do not condone the way she went about it, accusing her mother (when her father JUST killed a woman and little children, for heavens sake!) and becoming mouthy. I get that we all become unhinged at times, but I can’t imagine wanting to go to his house, to see the crime scene, to attend the funeral… ick. Overall the story had a great premise, though I wouldn’t say that it kept my full attention. Parts of it were spectacular, but the characters and their selfish attitudes really put a damper on my response to this one.
I have probably commented on this book a lot and yes i have dissed it a lot too, if this was written by another author and it was their debut novel i would have given it .....four stars but since it was written by the same author who wrote the legendary life as we knew it series then the most i will give it is three, the fact that willa was so weak got to me and why just srsly why would u go to the funeral of ppl u don't know it was really ridiculous but i do feel bad for her that her father abused her as a child but this book should have been more thrilling than it was protrayed to be aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnddddddddddddddddddd one last thing it has been a year and several good books sine i have read this but was there even a reason that her biological dad was so violent because i really do not remember there being a reason
I couldn't put this book down. You feel for the girl in the book learning about her mother and fathers past and how she deals with it all.
I loved the 'voice' that Willa had- her insights and opinions thoroughly color the narrative however I don't actually like her. She so passive and even when she's fighting for something she theoretically wants she can't say why she wants it and almost gets it without meaning to. Not to mention I think she is a victim of child neglect for a good portion of the story. It's interesting to read about characters that do respond the way people do- which is at best not always well under pressure and at worst overwhelmingly selfish. This book is all about surviving morally ambiguous and uncertain situations. There are not purely good or purely evil character in the book- every single character has major flaws. This book is intense but very well crafted.
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