Scarred – Joanne Macgregor


This review first appeared on Women24

Scarred will hook you from the very first sentence and pull you right through to the end, mercilessly. If you thought about doing anything else with your time or, God forbid, sleeping, after starting this novel, I wish you the best of luck: I was utterly unable to.

I was a bit tentative going in to this young adult romance when I read the blurb. A teenager, scarred physically and emotionally by trauma, tries to move on with her life. I expected something angsty that prodded at all the dark, uncomfortable, places. Don’t get me wrong, there are teary bits (hell, there are bits that had me blabbing my eyes out), but the overall tone of this story is uplifting and hopeful.

It is told mostly from the point of view of 17-year-old Sloan Munster as she starts life at a new school. Initially, you’re only given hints as to why.

“I am dead sick of hiding out like some wanted criminal, so I guess that means it’s time to face the world,” she says on page one. “It’s been nine months since someone pressed ctrl-alt-delete on my life, it’s time to reboot.”

You are kept guessing about the details as Sloan struggles to come to terms with them herself and to face everything she’s been through.

South African author, Joanne Macgregor is a counselling psychologist, and she certainly brings her knowledge of the human mind to this story. She has experience working with victims of trauma that makes Sloan not only a believable protagonist, but someone who is complex, multi-dimensional and just about ready to step off the page. Bad things have happened to Sloan, but she never comes across as a victim. She is a strong female lead character, feisty and funny, the whole way.

Sloan has been at her new school for barely a minute when she comes face-to-face with the gorgeous romantic interest, Luke. They already have a shared history: they competed against each other as swimmers and both harboured secret crushes. Now he seems to hate her, but she – and we – have no idea why. Not until the plot thickens, that is.

Part of the story is told from Luke’s point of view, but Macgregor cleverly keeps his statements vague and ambiguous. You are offered insight into his thoughts without them giving away too many secrets. One thing I really enjoyed about Luke was how nice he is. He’s not only a hunk, but a kind and gentle person who you feel deserves happiness.

While the plot revolves around Sloan and Luke, Macgregor creates a convincing world creatively showcasing the multiple challenges of being a teen in this day and age, building up to a nail-biting climax where there’s much more at stake than the hearts of the two protagonists.

If I had one criticism of Scarred, it would be that at times it is too predictable. But ultimately, isn’t guessing right a special kind of satisfaction?

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