Tabitha Suzuma, Hurt

Bodley Head, 2013, ISBN 978-1-782-30020-5

Seventeen year-old Matthéo seems to have a charmed life. He is one of the country’s most successful divers, destined for the Olympics. He is popular and has a great bunch of friends, and a girlfriend he adores and who adores him back. But something happens to him, something he cannot seem to remember, that changes him profoundly, rocks him to the core. He loses his trust in everyone, even his closest friends. He loses the will to dive, something he has devoted hours of every day to since he was a small boy. He loses all pleasure in life. He’s terrified of himself, sees himself as a despicable monster. He tries to hold himself together, but feels himself unravelling, his grasp on sanity increasingly fragile. He takes terrible risks. His wonderful relationship with Lola is put under severe threat.

This is an immensely powerful book, raw and extremely moving, a wonderful portrait of a young man on the edge.

Spoiler alert: I hate these, but in the case of this book, I feel one is necessary. Hurt explores rape and its impact. It is very explicit. It most certainly merits a place on library shelves, because it is a very fine novel, and because young people need and deserve sensitive books on this and all difficult issues, but its contents place it firmly in the young adult category.