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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
The engaging, inspirational coming-of-age novel, Topping the Willow by Lori Closter, is a story about redemption, forgiveness, and healing. Brittany Warner cannot wait to break away from her mother’s control and make her own decisions but for now, she knows fighting her is not worth it. When her mother replaces their trip to Hawaii with a two-week stay in Vermont, Brittany is again furious at her but decides to give in. On their way, another argument ensues between them, leading to a tragic accident. As Brittany’s father supports his wife in the hospital, Brittany is sent to a horse farm. While there, she learns about her mother’s past and is forced to face her own flaws while in the company of loving friends and seventeen-year-old Will who refuses to give up on her.
Topping the Willow by Lori Closter accurately captures the struggles many teens encounter and offers hope for healing. Through its first-person perspective, Brittany’s voice and emotions are made more apparent. The painful effects of emotionally distant parenting are also evident in the story. There are many uplifting messages beautifully woven into the plot including how faith can offer hope, encourage forgiveness and facilitate healing. I loved that each character was realistically portrayed and that the issues explored in the plot are familiar and relevant. Brittany and Will’s friendship was also inspiring. Topping the Willow by Lori Closter is a beautiful, profound novel with practical themes for its intended audience. It sensitively tackles many challenges that teenagers face. Highly recommended.