Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Peeling the Onion” as Want to Read:
Peeling the Onion
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Peeling the Onion

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  823 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
The car accident changed everything. Before, Anna knew who she was and what she looked like. But now she's a stranger to her family, her friends, and herself. She is no longer the pretty, popular girl who loves karate. Her body now betrays 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 bee ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 9th 1999 by Laurel Leaf
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Peeling the Onion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Peeling the Onion

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Selina Kyle
I've read this book about twelve or thirteen times since I first read it in 1998. This book influenced my view of strength, character, depression, recovery, and disability. Basically, it changed my life, first by inspiring me to go into physical therapy as a profession and then, after my own spinal injury, by giving me a story I could relate to.

The writing is deeply personal, the sort of wide-open honesty you would find in a diary, and the stages of Anna's recovery are wholly believable and subt
Cheryl Rainfield
Jul 04, 2011 Cheryl Rainfield rated it it was amazing
Peeling the Onion is a powerful book that shows pain from the inside out, and hope and healing, too. It feels real and deep. It swept me up and took me along for the ride. I've read it a few times, and I know I'll be reading it again.
such a beautifully written book- I'm so glad I got this for my English elective class! (even though it wasn't my first choice :/ )
Mar 20, 2008 Tawny rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, novel
Author: Wendy Orr
Title: Peeling the Onion
Genre: search for self novel
Publication Info: Bantam Doubleday. New York. 1996.
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Plot Summary: Anna, a 17-year-old karate-lover has her world turned upside down when she gets hit in a car accident and is seriously injured. She has broken her neck and really messed up her legs, thumb, and cognitive abilities. She will never be able to do karate again. Hayden, the driver of the car she was in, feels guilty and responsible for her pai
Jun 02, 2014 Harshita rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chloe Innes
Feb 10, 2017 Chloe Innes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I have never read a better book on accidents, pain, and disability. The first half of the book was an incredibly hard read. The feelings were real & raw. The second half of the book covering the journey to recovery and acceptance was amazing. I could certainly recommend this book to any teen or adult.
Aleema Arastu
May 05, 2013 Aleema Arastu rated it did not like it
I really didn't enjoy this book at all. We had a disability unit in our English class at school with lots of books to choose where we'd have to read one, do a couple of journal entries on it, and then pick out a new one. I had just finished a really good book when I picked this one out. I had high hopes for it considering my experience with the book I'd read just before it. I was very disappointed though.

When I read the first chapter, it seemed really slow. I assumed this was just because it was
Feb 17, 2013 Adele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, australian
This was my Year 9 English text, and yet it is a book that I have returned to again and again and again. I fear my words won't do it justice, but I'm going to try anyway.

The blend of prose and poetry in Peeling the Onion is magical, the structure refreshing. And the sarcasm…oh the sarcasm!

I suspect that those who gave this text a low rating didn’t understand its sophistication. And for those criticising Anna’s complaints…I am curious to know whether a) they have been involved in a traumatic ev
Apr 03, 2014 Vickie rated it really liked it
Wendy Orr author of Peeling the Onion writes a compelling novel about Anna and a car accident that changes everything for her. For a short book, 166 pages, Peeling the Onion examines the layers of the main character Anna -who she was, who she is and who she will become. Her life is that of a bright and bubbly 17 year old until she is in a car accident that leaves her questioning everything.

Peeling the Onion is a book about self, relationships, and healing that comes from the inside out. Anna go
Jan 25, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Peeling the Onion a very realistic narrative of someone who is recovering from an accident and knows that things will never be the same again. Anna’s struggle to figure out and acceptance of who she is after the accident is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s written almost like a collection of vignettes which makes for an interesting (but not jarring or distracting; more like stream of consciousness) flow. There are three poems in the book which mark the three points of Anna’s journey; I ...more
Jul 30, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it
This was a reread. I first read this book in 1997 when it was a recommended text for a hospital chaplaincy course I was doing at the time. Recent circumstances and finding my copy in a box converged, so I decided to read it again. It is a great way to get into the experience of a person who has experienced a traumatic event. Using narrative, poetry and a savvy for the hormone jungle of the late teenage years, this book puts us there. Anna Duncan reminds us of others we know and is therefore cred ...more
Jun 02, 2013 Jenny rated it it was amazing
I think that Wendy Orr did an excellent job conveying the effect an accident can have on someone, particularly an adolescent with their entire life in front of them.

It was a bit creepy for me to read this book. My daughter is very athletic and her main sport is karate. She had surgery in February to address a hip injury. I found myself wondering how I would react if my daughter had been in a car accident like this instead.

Mar 14, 2012 Genevieve rated it it was amazing
I first read 'Peeling the Onion' in 1997 and then I studied it at secondary school in 1998.
Even now 15 years later It is still a go to book when I feel like reading but don't know what.
Wendy Orr is a beautiful writer. You can't help wondering if a terrible accident was to happen to one of your friends would you act more like Jenny and Caroline??? And who would you choose, Hayden or Luke?
Beautiful story of friendship, families, love, courage and defiance. A must read :)
Lisa Grice
Mar 27, 2014 Lisa Grice rated it it was amazing
Incredibly insightful into the mind of someone facing struggles and change. I found this book to be refreshingly realistic, rather than just a 'you can do it' look at getting through a tragedy. One of my favourite textbooks from highschool English that I still have in my collection 15 years later.
May 18, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
It was an intriguing book about love, suffering and hope. Anna is thrown into a world of confusion and sadness when she and Hayden crash after Anna wins a karate tournament into Trevor Jones, and her world is turned upside down. Anna learns a little bit more about herself every day.
Tam Krab
Nov 22, 2013 Tam Krab rated it it was amazing
Good book. Great book. Give it the Newberry award. Beautiful. Sublime. Read it. Read it all the way through. Read it twice. Read it to your uncle. Eat it.
Sep 20, 2015 J.D.Staton rated it liked it
Too much glossing over the serious, long-term consequences of living with the multiple, significant physical disabilities the main protagonist will live with for the duration of her life. The double romance scenarios are wholly unrealistic. As both an RN and clinical MSW, myself, I know it is extraordinarily rare for any form of romance to arise in the immediate aftermath of such a grave catastrophe. It takes years to adapt to all of the social, emotional, occupational, academic, psychological, ...more
Erin Lawlor
Nov 23, 2013 Erin Lawlor rated it liked it
The book "Peeling the Onion" by Wendy Orr was an okay book overall but a little confusing at times because it went back and forth most of the time. The book was mostly about a girl Anna who got into a car accident with a boy Hayden and then finds out that she likes him more than she did before. Anna also finds out more about herself and her friends while the story goes more on and the layers she is peeling them back like an onion. I like the idea of the book itself but the way it was explained ...more
I remember my English teacher raving about this book SO MUCH when it first came out, when I was in year 10, that I thought I'd actually read it at the time. But I saw it at the library the other week and it hit me that I actually couldn't remember it, so I decided to give it "another" read and you know what? I don't think I actually read it in year 10 after all!

The story is about Anna, who has been injured in a car accident, and follows her progress as she slowly recovers. It's not the happiest
Christina Batey
Sep 09, 2012 Christina Batey rated it liked it
A young athlete in the prime of their life, cut down by a terrible accident - a plot similar to another great book I know!

The plot is a little bit cliched, but Ms Orr manages to throw in a couple of little twists - in the back of my mind, I knew there was going to be a happy ending - the fun was finding out exactly how.

The staccato writing style took a little bit of getting used to. I think it was because I have read so many flowing novels lately. Sometimes it was hard to delineate what was supp
Jul 04, 2008 george rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, read-in-2008
Anna has just won her karate competition and her sort-of boyfriend just kissed her. Things are going great--and then she gets into a car accident that changes her life forever. She is badly injured and the doctors are predicting a grim future for Anna. Her friends are reacting strangely to her and Hayden hovers, but won't ever touch her. Anna has plans for her future and makes a timeline in her head for when she can return to normal--but the time comes and she still hasn't improved. Anna must ta ...more
ACS Librarian
17-year-old Anna is such a strong character. Sure she 19s angry a lot of the time, but she has a right to be. She 19s the victim of a horrific car crash, and her recovery leads to almost as many setbacks as advances.

The author has been through her own severe car accident, and clearly knows the details of the recovery process. There 19s an impressive dose of science, along with plenty of disturbing jolts of pain.

The narrative isn 19t always so spectacular: choppy at times. Once outside the circ
Int'l librarian
17-year-old Anna is such a strong character. Sure she’s angry a lot of the time, but she has a right to be. She’s the victim of a horrific car crash, and her recovery leads to almost as many setbacks as advances.

The author has been through her own severe car accident, and clearly knows the details of the recovery process. There’s an impressive dose of science, along with plenty of disturbing jolts of pain.

The narrative isn’t always so spectacular: choppy at times. Once outside the circle of fa
Aug 15, 2011 Tammy rated it it was amazing
Peeling the Onion is a bittersweet novel of strength and determination. Anna was a karate champion, and had the guy. Suddenly it all changed in a fatal car accident where she breaks her neck, and suddenly she must decide weather or not to carry on to get stronger, or just give up. But she then begins to realise, however awful, this accident may just be the jolt she needed to find herself, the right guy, and who her real friends are.
Amanda Trost
Sep 26, 2009 Amanda Trost rated it really liked it
I'm not too into fiction books, but this story is based on the author's real experience as a car accident victim. It chronicles an 17/18 year old's process through grief after a life altering, permanantly disabling accident. It takes place in Austrailia (I think?). The author changes subjects and thoughts abruptly, which I didn't like at first, but it did help to make the character have depth and reality.
Jun 23, 2008 Val rated it really liked it
What happens when the one role that defines who you are is taken away? This book is a fabulous novel about a teenage girls struggle to define herself after a horrible car crash destroys her future as an athlete and black belt in karate. I love the voice the novel is told in, unlike anything I've ever read. Darkly funny, honest, and enjoyable. Side fact: the book takes place in Australia and I enjoyed that cultural aspect.
Ashley Reynolds
This is a good one for teens, I think if you've ever known anyone who has gone through trauma at such a young age it may be helpful in understanding what they are going through.
My younger sister's best friend recently fell off of a waterfall and broke her back and sustained some similar injuries to those that Anna faced in this book, some of the passages hit home because of my own life. Otherwise it was fairly good read; I probably would have enjoyed it more if I were still a teen.
Mar 12, 2008 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Anna, athletic and driven, is horribly injured in a tragic accident. As she leaves her old life behind, she is afraid that there is nothing left. She struggles to heal, love, and find out who she really is. A trio of poems that Anna writes using peeling an onion as a metaphor for the aftermath of her accident beautifully illuminates her state of mind as she comes to terms with her new life.

Mar 12, 2008 Lori rated it liked it
I liked this book because it was about a girl that used to be part of the popular croud... until she got in a really bad accident and was stuck in the hoapital for a long time. None of her so called friends came to visit, but she did get some visits from the people that she rarely talked to. This book gave me insite into what sometimes happens in the lives of teenagers, but i have always had very good friends and i know that wouldnt happen!!! :)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Walking Naked
  • See Ya, Simon
  • Strange Objects
  • By the River
  • In Lane Three, Alex Archer (Alex Archer, #1)
  • Deadly, Unna?
  • Thursday's Child
  • Enid (Quatre soeurs, #1)
  • Rocco
  • Foxspell
  • The Red Shoe
  • There Will Be Wolves
  • Dieu, le sexe et les bretelles (Titeuf, #1)
  • Dougy (The Gracey Trilogy #1)
  • The Fire-Eaters
  • Some of the Kinder Planets: Stories
  • The Gathering
  • The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, Who Planned to Live an Unusual Life
I’m an author, but I could never have started writing books if I hadn’t loved reading them first. Reading isn’t just one of my favourite things to do; it’s one of the most important things in my life. I can’t imagine a world in which I couldn’t read, every day. That’s why I always read to my children every day, just as my parents used to read to me. Stories can be exciting, sad, funny, scary or co ...more
More about Wendy Orr...

Share This Book