Peeling the Onion

Peeling the Onion

3.5 16
by Wendy Orr

View All Available Formats & Editions

The car accident changed everything. Before, Anna knew who she was and what she looked like--a pretty, popular girl who loved karate. But now she's a stranger to her family, her friends, and even herself. Anna's body has betrayed her, and she knows it will never be the same. All the layers that made up the old Anna--her looks, her friends, her sport--have been peeled


The car accident changed everything. Before, Anna knew who she was and what she looked like--a pretty, popular girl who loved karate. But now she's a stranger to her family, her friends, and even herself. Anna's body has betrayed her, and she knows it will never be the same. All the layers that made up the old Anna--her looks, her friends, her sport--have been peeled away, leaving her to face the question of who she really is, and what she wants to be. An ALA Best Book for Young Adults. A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This Australian import is, essentially, a realistic but uninspired portrayal of a 17-year-old's slow recovery after her neck is broken in a car accident. Adding irony to horror, athletic Anna has just won the first karate tournament on the way to a national competition. Alone with a pain she calls a "black vortex," she finds little comfort in her family's concern, her friend Hayden's romantic attentions and her schoolmates' news of life outside the sickroom. Key passages of the book take the form of an internal monologue to reveal how Anna, stripped of her athletic capabilities and normal appearance, seeks ways to redefine herself. Feelings of resentment and anger against the man who crashed into her and Hayden alternate with rage against God, as Anna wonders what remains of her former self and grapples with larger moral issues (would instant death from a severed spinal cord have been luckier than a broken neck?). Orr uses pat devices to bring Anna's dismantled self back together (kindness and romantic interest from a college dropout who works at her mother's nursery; careless mining of psychological platitudes), and her spare writing and flat tone won't help elicit much personal interest in Anna's plight beyond the bald medical facts. After working through the layers of Orr's story, readers looking for a solid core at the center will come up short. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
VOYA - Alice F. Stern
Anna is a high school karate champion who is injured in a car accident. Her face looks different, and her body no longer does what she tells it. While her physical problems make Anna wonder who she really is, her parents and siblings have their own reactions to the accident, her friends each have their ways of coping, and her relationship with her boyfriend turns awkward. As her body slowly recovers, Anna must confront her fears and discomfort, as well as those of the people she cares about. This introspection and her recovery change some of her relationships, ignite a new romance, and change how she looks at herself. This well-written novel was first published in Australia. The first-person narrative never gets whiney, making it easy for the reader to empathize with Anna. The characters are well developed, and the events and Anna's reactions to them ring true. Anna does not recover 100 percent, and she has to rethink her future. The story's ending is realistic and not too good to be true. Those who enjoy hospital reads would do far better with this novel than with those of Lurlene McDaniel, and this should have a much broader appeal anyway. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12). 1997, (c)
Children's Literature
Anna loves a sport—karate—but all that changes after a terrible car accident. The teenager feels betrayed by her paralyzed body and struggles to re-define herself now that her friends, her looks, and her sport have been stripped away. Wendy Orr has crafted a complex, moving novel about identity and loss. 1996, Laurel Leaf/Random House, $4.50. Ages 11 up. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpA car collision cataclysmically changes forever the life of 17-year-old Anna. Her return from a victorious karate meet with Hayden, a fellow athlete, is interrupted by a careless driver. Grimly realistic from the frenetic, impersonal emergency-room experience to the reactions of family and friends, this story of gritty survival will grab even the most reluctant readers. Romance with an unlikely suitor (a college dropout who works in her mother's nursery) is deliciously tentative. Hayden, full of guilt, remains attentive to Anna but he is oblivious to her needs for physical interaction. Orr leisurely doles out the bad newsthe wrong diagnosis by the doctors, callous treatment by a former best friend, and the likelihood of irreparable brain damage. Trying to be a "good" patient, Anna ignores her real pain and tries to suppress her waves of despair. Like the title's onion, this story has layers of feelings to be explored. Characterizations of even the minor characters are rich with black humor. Both parents are sympathetically portrayed as trying to cope in their own way with this tragedy; the siblings also demonstrate their side effects (sister Bronwyn becomes a cheerful hypochondriac). A fine offering from a promising Australian author.Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews
This Australian import covers much of the same territory explored in Cynthia Voigt's Izzy, Willy Nilly (1986): A popular, physically active teenager is severely injured in an auto accident, and must cope not only with pain and uncertainty about her future, but also with changes in relationships as her friends' lives seem to go on without her.

Anna Duncan has just won a karate championship when her neck is broken in a car crash. Faced with the possibility that she may suffer permanent disability, she must rebuild her identity around drastically altered ideas of what a "normal" life will be for her. Some friends fail her; others (and her family) are steadfast. One romance founders on guilt and pity; a more mature love grows to take its place. Readers will perceive in the negligent handling of Anna's case a shocking degree of medical malpractice. The story of her recovery is told in the first person in short, unconnected episodes rather like diary entries. Anna's pain, fear, and dissociation from her former self are rendered so convincingly that readers will close the book believing they have encountered a primary source on trauma.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Laurel-Leaf Bks.
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.03(h) x 0.52(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Peeling the Onion 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, Peeling the Onion, was one of my most favorite books I have read. I would definetly recommed this book to girls in around seventh or eighth grade, to twelfth grade and above. In this book, it almost seems real, the way Anna is going through her ups and downs, over the past year, you would think that it is a true story. This book is about a young girl who has a very good life, she just won a tournament and now she has a boyfriend and the two best friends any one could have. Until on her way home, soemthing life changing happened to her and now she has to face very difficult decisions and some 'handicaps'. She breaks her neck, her thumb and her ankle. She misses so much school that she might have to take her year over again. Anna has to go through physical therapy, go from doctor to doctor appointments almost everyday, and she even has to go to counseling. She needs to find out who she is inside and her friends Jenny and Luke help her out with it. But could there be something more between her and Luke? Anna is fighting with her parents and same with her and her boyfriend. And now the person that caused her to end up like this wants to meet with her. Can Anna face her fears of him? Can she fix her problems with her boyfriend, friends and parents? Please read this book, it is very exciting, emotional and surprising. I think you will enjoy it. I definetly did!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peeling the Onion is a heartfelt young adult novel with an incredible plot. Seventeen year old Anna Duncan has just won a karate tournament, and suddenly, with a blink of an eye, it is all taken away from her. After surviving a terrible car accident, she is diagnosed with very severe paralysis in from her waist down. Slowly, she soon recovers, but finds out that she may never be able to do karate again. Since most of her life was based on karate, it feels as though her whole life has come crashing down. If you think all wounds heal, this book will shock you. The struggle that she has to learn to fight everyday is enough to bring you to tears. It's extremely aggravating to read about someone with so much potential of becoming someone great, someone you know could do great things one day, someone get all that yanked away from them. In this novel, one girl's determination to prove to herself that she is capable of getting by, of facing her fears. But in the end, could she bring herself to face the man that did this to her?
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was really weird. something wasn't right in the way this book was written. i felt like she complained so much but you never really found out abtou how she felt inside i guess im not sure its kind of hard to explain but its not like any other book i have read and i wouldnt recommend it because its missing something big i just cant put my finger on it...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wendy Orr is an awesome author! When i read this book i felt Anna's emotions, her desperate stuggle and her determination to recover. Anna is the most inspiring character and this book was realistic and moving.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought it was boaring at first but i thought it had alot of feeling and it even made me think once or twice. im not really a book lover but since i had to read this book for school i guess it was a decision wether fail yr10 english or read the dam book and i did so and once i had read the book i felt better about myself because i thought and felt things i hadent yet exeperenced this book made me laugh,cry, be angree and feel Anna's pain. If you really get into the book you will feel for Anna. we all know she is a little bit of a snop maybe she is beaing the way she is because of what happened to her i know i would hate everything around me put your self in her shoes and you will see :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't like it. The main character is spoiled and stupid.BORING!!!!! There was no spark that wanted you to read further on. Don't waste your time reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The main charater is nothing but a spoiled brat. The book is nothing but a bag of trash.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not so good, don't put you expectation to high. Like me, I heard my friends say it's really good, but when I read it, it's pretty disappointing. It's just too girlly. And most importantly, It's really boring, boring, boring. I consider it a waste of time. So don't read it unless you have nothing else to do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
as Anna strugles to deal with her accident she finds that who she was before the accident wasn't realy Anna. All through the story she dreamed of another Anna in a paralell universe and claimed that the other Anna should be glad she has the life she does. By the end she thinks that Annas lucky but she doesn't have some things i have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome book. I felt a lot of emotions while reading this book. It was sad but very good and interesting book. I knew that i would like this. I think going through that accident would change my life a lot too. I would want my normal life back also, so I feel a lot of sympathy for her. I hope that you get the chance to read it, and I know that you will like this book. Thanks for you time and appreciation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peeling the Onion by Karen Orr, I thought, was a great book to read. A friend of mine read it and passed it on to all of her friends saying that it taught you a lesson in life. In a way it does. It teaches you to appreciate what you have in life. It also teaches you that looks really don't matter because any minute you too could be struck by a car like Anna was and almost killed. But mostly, it teaches and mostly reminds you that the only way to survive is to never give up. I felt bad that Anna's friend was.. embarassed to be seen with her. Caroline seemed like a good person, but I guess you find out who your real friends are in the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I know what anna is going though. After being in a car accident my self, and losing a sister, and haveing a scar run the length of my left arm. I thought that I would like the book. Well it was some what what I went though and It was a good book and I hope you enjoy the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read this book I felt like I was Anna and was going through exactky what she was. As I was reading I could see all the determination and heart that Anna had. After her accident she had 2 feelings. One was that the accident had ruined her life and hse would never ne the same. The second was that she wanted her normal life back: hanging out with her friends and even going out with her boyfriend again!! This was an inspiring book and I will never forget it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The procastinated congeniality really improvised with the optimistic superficiality the novel had to offer. If the low-level sypomatic paelentology had been better portrayed, the novel would have been far more enjoyable
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read this book I felt like I was Anna. I couldn't put the book down!!! Wendy Orr did an amazing job!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent work of art. I muchly enjoyed the creativity of the style of it. This would be a book i could reccomend to others.