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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  713 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Imogen has always believed that her black belt in Tae Kwon Do made her stronger than everyone else--more responsible, more capable. But when she witnesses a holdup in a diner, she freezes. The gunman is shot and killed by the police. And it's all her fault.

Now she's got to rebuild her life without the talent that made her special and the beliefs that made her strong. If on
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Amulet/Abrams
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YA Novels of 2013
267th out of 1,524 books — 10,629 voters
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YA Debuts 2013
102nd out of 526 books — 2,453 voters

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Community Reviews

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Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
On The Nocturnal Library: Sarah Skilton talks about how she sees her main character, Imogen. Plus, there's a giveaway of a signed hardcover copy of BRUISED.

There’s only a handful of authors whose insightfulness I admire as much as I admire Sarah Skilton right now, most of them Australian. At first, my rating was 4.5 stars, but then I decided that such profound understanding of human psyche combined with really excellent writing deserves more. So I gave it a five, which is something I rarely d
Wendy Darling
Hm, I feel alone in a sea of glowing 4s and 5s on this one.

This is such an interesting subject, and there were times when Imogene's PTSD flashbacks were definitely troubling. But I had a serious problem connecting with most of the characters, and I was never really convinced by most of the main story arcs.

A story that engaged my interest for the short while it took to read it, but one that ultimately left my heart...unbruised.
“If a girl punches someone, she’s crazy. If a guy punches someone, he’s dealing with his feelings. He’s normal.”

I have to thank several friends for recommending Skilton’s debut recently; without their encouragement to pick it up, Bruised might have been quietly sucked into the black hole of my growing TBR list.

Bruised is an insightful novel about a girl’s journey to redefine her sense of self in the wake of a traumatic incident. While suffering PTSD as a result of a diner hold-up, Imogen is c
A very thorough, in depth excursion into PTSD and how it affects your everyday life and the lives of the people who are around you.

This book was like watching a train wreck slowly unfold in front of my eyes. Imogen is 16 and a Tae Kwon Do black belt, practically a prodigy. When she ends up getting involved in a diner shooting and the gunman gets slaughtered by the police, she blames herself for not being able to intervene and salvage the situation with her martial art's skills.

From there on, he
4.5 Stars

Although I have no experience with martial arts, it is very much a part of my life. You can hardly walk in my house without seeing remnants of my brother's neatly broken boards, sparring gear, or the dozens of belts he went through to finally receive his black belt. As his older sister, though, I've seen more than just the physical evidence of his years spent on tae kwon do; I've seen the non-tangible evidence too. I've witnessed my brother transform from a shy, timid, and vulnerable ch
Bruised is story of a girl (Tae Kwon Do talent) who survives a hold-up, but not without emotional scars and torment. The opening chapter is so compelling, the PTSD that comes afterwards rings true. For a dramatic premise, the book never delves into the melodramatic, I think this is one of it's strengths.

The writing is strong and sure.

I really wish I had connected more to Imogen. As much as I admired what the author was doing with her themes, without this character connection I only felt a passi
3.5 stars actually

Before Bruised I have never read any novel related to sports, any kind of sports. So I better shan’t compare this book with any other book because I found it unique itself. Most of all, before staring the book, I had no knowledge about any kind of Karate but now I can name few moves that are used in Tae Kwon Do.

The story deals with a mental agony of a sixteen-year-old black belt Imogen, who believed that her black belt made her strong enough to survive any situations. But when

I wish I could give this a better rating but the fact is that Bruised did not impact me like I thought it would.

It’s a good book and I liked it but I feel it could have been better. Bruised could have been a deeper, darker exploration of PTSD had it stayed focused on the main Tae Kwon Do aspect of it, but it kept derailing into needless drama that I did not care about.

I found Imogen very unlikeable. Her attitude towards her parents especially bothered me. While I appreciate the complexity of
I was expecting a lot from Bruised, debut novel of author Sarah Skilton, and it really delivered. It is a rare book that can so deftly convey the turbulent emotions that can arise following a traumatic event but Bruised really packs a punch and isn't afraid to delve into what damage can be done to a person's psyche in the aftermath of tragedy.

Bruised tells the story of Imogen, a sixteen year old girl who is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Imogen is in a diner one night when a lone gunman holds it
Trish Doller
The kind of book that keeps you up late at night and lingers long after you've turned the last page. Imogen's struggle in the aftermath of trauma is brutal in a raw, beautiful way. I loved everything about it.

(I blurbed this book. That's what I said.)
When I first found out about Bruised by Sarah Skilton, it didn't catch my attention very much, at all. It was only when I saw rave reviews for this book by some of my most trusted blogger friends (ehem, Keertana and Maja) that I knew I had to read it. And thank goodness for their accurate opinions on this book, because after finishing Bruised, I've come to the conclusion that this book is a new favorite for 2013. Honestly, if you look at my status updates on Goodreads for this book, pretty much ...more
BRUISED is not exactly a coming of age story; it’s one of knowing what you can and cannot do and then dealing with consequences of things unexpected. In this one it’s Imogen, struggling to get over what she’s witnessed and at the same time having those around her struggle along with to make things right for her. Contrast all the emotional turmoil she’s living with to the uneasy state she’s in with her friends, and family and things went from worse, then worse again before any of the better came ...more
Cat Winters
Sarah Skilton and I are friends and share the same editor at Amulet Books, so I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of BRUISED...and I couldn't put it down. Skilton digs deep into the raw emotions of her damaged protagonist, Imogen, and, like an expert taekwondo player, allows her plot to make unexpected moves that will have you scrambling to turn the pages. There's an especially beautiful metaphor for Imogen's heart that I loved, and the relationships built, broken, and restored throughou ...more
I think I should not have started this book at 10 pm on Sunday night. Finding a novel so potent it caused me to pull an all-nighter was worth it, though.

Imogen is in the wrong place at the wrong time. As she waits for her friend to wash up in the diner's lavatory, a twitchy, frenetic man storms inside waving a gun. Imogene quietly hides under a table, keeping absolutely still as sounds of violence and pain echo around her. Her guilt is a live thing that grows after the event, after the police ar
Miranda Kenneally
I loved this book!
Jan 11, 2015 Samantha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: martial artists!
I am totally bias towards this book being am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do myself, but I must say, I really enjoyed this book. For me, it was easy to truly appreciate this book because I'm a martial artist.

The struggles and thoughts Imogen faces are things I have wondered myself. If I am ever in an actual dangerous situation, and not just partnering up against someone in class, how would I react? I'd like to think I would be able to defend myself, still, they say you never know what you'd do i
Rachel R. (My Book Empire)
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Bruised, that’s why when Amulet Books sent me a copy for review, I immediately read it and until now, I don’t know whether to give this one 3 or 4 stars.

First of all, I really admire the main character, Imogen, for her bravery. Heck, she was only sixteen when she witnessed a holdup in a diner and survived it. Her story opened my eyes about PTSD and how it can affect a person, especially a teenager, and also those people surrounding you. But in Imogen’s case,
Hannah (The Irish Banana Review)
In Bruised, Sarah Skilton is set to take the YA world by storm. In this incredible debut she brings a powerhouse combination of emotion, romance, and action that left me breathless and reeling and utterly wrecked in the best way possible..

When we first meet Imogen she is in a state of shock, left bereft after the events that have transpired in the diner. There is no build-up, no warming to this character—Skilton bravely thrusts her into the spotlight having just survived an unthinkable ordeal. I
3.5 Stars

Let me preface this by saying that I do not have a heart of stone because it seems that I am among the few that this book did not resonate with completely. Secondly, let me reiterate that I liked it. I just didn’t love it.

Bruised tells the story of a girl trained in martial arts who struggles with PTSD after a diner hold-up results in the gunman’s death, leaving her to deal with the ensuing guilt and depression from her inability to prevent it.

By the time my brother arrives, he can’t g
Jenni Arndt
I always find stories that deal with a traumatic incident and how it affects the characters minds (and essentially their day to day life) utterly fascinating. BRUISED dealt with just that. After Imogen lives through being one of the few patrons in a diner when it is held up she has blocked much of the event out of her mind. As she struggles with clearing the clouds in her memory of that day and with how mad she is at herself for not doing anything an interesting story unfolds but it left me long ...more
Michelle (Much Loved Books)
I have had my eye on this book for a while, the cover of the book is simple but very eye catching, and one that drew me in, once I had read the synopsis I knew I had to read it so I was excited to receive a copy for review.

"My black belt represents everything I could've done and everything I didn't do, the only time it really mattered."
Page 3 uncorrected proof

I love this quote, to me it embodies the idea of the story and the character Imogen. Bruised is about Imogen and focuses on the afterma
Originally posted at

Blast the trumpets! Throw the confetti! For I, Shelver, diehard fantasy/sci-fi addict and perpetually distrustful reader of contemporary, have found a contemporary book that she loves. And not just any contemporary book. An issuebook!


Bruisedopens immediately after Imogen's world shatters. A woman is in the hospital, a man is dead, and Imogen is covered head to toe in his blood, "sticking to me like chunks of blackberry jam." To b
Alise  (Readers in Wonderland)
This review and more at Readers In Wonderland
Full formatting of this review shows on the blog. ^

BRUISED tells the story of a girl named Imogen, a teenage black belt. She believes the black belt makes her confident and strong. It takes an awful experience to show her just how wrong she is about being a black belt. Imogen , that's Imo-gen, believes in one thing above all-protect the weak. So when the diner she is at one night gets h
Tammy Sparks
Sometimes a book comes along at just the right time and resonates in just the right way. Bruised was that book for me. It could be that I needed a break from all the paranormal stories I’ve been reading, and I have to admit it was a nice change of pace to read a contemporary novel. But no matter what your usual reading fare is, Bruised is sure to trigger some type of emotion, because it’s so well written and perfectly paced. I absolutely loved the character of Imogen; I found her to be one of th ...more
A Canadian Girl
Bruised by Sarah Skilton was a book I struggled to finish. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I just couldn’t care about Imogen for some reason. By extension therefore, I didn’t care about Imogen’s family problems, the fact that she was suffering from PTSD, or her bland romance. While reading Bruised, I couldn’t understand why Imogen felt guilty about freezing up and hiding when someone came in the local diner with a gun. I don’t think there’s any shame in that kind of reaction – even if you kn ...more
Nina O'Daniels
Imogen is a bad ass. As in black belt at Tae Kwon Do- the only teenager at her dojang to reach that level. She has spent years preparing, learning, teaching, meditating, and respecting the laws that dictate this art. It is her identity, the one thing she is better at than her perfect brother, and the one thing that lets her down when she needed it most.

The fateful night in question is the night of an armed robbery at a diner where she and a friend were having dinner. While her friend Hannah is i
Ashlie Moe
Published by Sarah Skilton
Reviewed by Ashlie Moe

“Problem is, Imogen new her skill, but she didn’t put it to use when it could’ve kept a man alive. Even though she’s living with guilt she doesn’t understand she’s not the only one.” Overall I thought the plot was very entertaining and flowed very well. Also, the story is very believable, like it actually could’ve happened. It was very easy to follow and I related to it a lot. It’s probably the best book, in my opinion, that i’ve
Shannon Grieshaber
When Imogen is one of only two inhabitants at the diner when it is held up at gunpoint and the perpetrator is shot and killed by the police, she suffers from major PTSD and feelings of guilt and incompetence. The guilt and incompetence comes from the fact that Imogen is a black belt - a known superstar at TKD. If she's such a great fighter, if she has sworn to protect the weak, why was she not able to stop the gunman or take him down to save him from being killed by the cops? Bruised is Imogen's ...more
Stacey Conrad
Imogene was there the night the gunman was killed at the diner. All she can remember is blood and a boy under another table, across from her. Imogene, who has a black belt, didn’t lose her life that night, but she lost her confidence, her heart, and her purpose.

Imogene’s character grows in amazing ways, the realizations she finally makes are hard won, and worthwhile. There is a romance of sorts in this novel but its secondary, in a manner of speaking, to dealing with the PTSD that is happening t
Rebecca Petruck
This spare, well-written novel struck home in an unexpected way for me. When something traumatic happens, it's easy to think everything that follows is because of IT, that you are defined by the event. But it's more like the event is a spark that sets your life on fire and you have to choose what to save from the flames. Skilton captures that effect perfectly. This book is NOT about a girl and a gunman in a diner. It's about a girl who becomes conscious of her choices and chooses what parts of h ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Violence and Responsibility 1 5 Jun 18, 2013 03:11PM  
Diabetes 1 2 Jun 18, 2013 03:10PM  
Tough Times With Friends 1 3 Jun 18, 2013 03:09PM  
Ricky and Imogen, Sittin' In a Tree (Romance in BRUISED) 1 6 Jun 18, 2013 03:08PM  
Parents in YA 1 4 Jun 18, 2013 03:08PM  
The Role of Gender in BRUISED 1 3 Jun 18, 2013 03:07PM  
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Sarah is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a fact that came in handy while writing her martial arts-themed debut YA novel, BRUISED (2013, Amulet Books), which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and which the Horn Book called "nuanced and honest."

Her latest novel, HIGH AND DRY (April 2014, Amulet Books), was called "A dark, well-constructed mystery with a strong voice" by Kirkus.

Sarah and
More about Sarah Skilton...
High and Dry

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“People mess up, you know? But you can’t see past it. It’s like you choose one thing about them—the worst thing—and say, ‘That’s who they are,’ and ignore the rest of it. Why not choose the best thing about them instead? Or the thing they do the most?” 15 likes
“Mrs. Hamilton told me teenagers are resilient, that we'll bounce back," he scoffs. "And I'm thinking, Okay. When?"
I don't remember Mrs. Hamilton saying that, but I've heard the theory before. That the younger you are, the quicker you can normalize an event and move on, because you don't know any other way of life. It just becomes a small part of your narrative as the years go by. But it seems to me the younger you are when something bad happens to you, the longer you have to carry it with you.”
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