Review: Bruised (Tanya Boteju) | I was ready to get hurt by this sapphic coming of age book that deals with grief

For some reason I’m getting the feeling all my posts start off with something along the lines of “I can’t resist books that deal with a certain subject and are sapphic, too!” which is…fair, because it’s the truth. When I first saw this book I already started craving it. I mean, a coming of age story that not only deals with grief but also seems to have women supporting each other? There’s no way I’m letting that pass! Especially not if it’s sapphic, too.

I haven’t read Tanya Boteju’s debut book Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens or anything, but I was absolutely preparing myself to be a sobbing mess when finishing this book. And for the record: I was looking forward to crying my eyes out. Now, did this book met those expectations? Let’s take a look!

What is Bruised about?

Bruised by Tanya Boteju
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: March 23rd, 2021
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Representation: Sri Lankan main character, mental illnesses, characters from various backgrounds, characters with various sexualities, non-binary side character, deaf side character
Trigger/Content warnings: self harm, parental death, grief, emotional abuse, PTSD, car-accident

Rating: 2 out of 5.

To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.

So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.

The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing.

What did I think of Bruised?

I feel empty. That might not be my best review opening ever, but it’s really all I can say. Where I expected to leave this book crying because I’d read such a heart-breaking yet heart-mending story, I literally feel nothing. No pain, no love, no empowerment…no anything. And that must be one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far.

Though I can’t exactly pinpoint where it went wrong for me, I can say this: it all felt very surface-level. I really hoped we could delve into Daya’s brain and world, but it was more like watching a stranger, which made it really hard to connect with her even though her problems are relatable. At first I thought this was all because Daya has so many walls around her, but even in the end I still felt this way.

The writing was easy to read and not bad at all, but I don’t think it was right for this book. This story really asked for a writing style that’s very descriptive and makes you live through the things that are happening along with the characters. This deals with heavy topics like self-harm and the aftermath of a deadly car-accident, but I didn’t think it portrayed the deep emotions that well. Especially the self-harm representation made me feel very hmm, this doesn’t feel right…

“I wanted to believe them. But I’d told myself my own version for so long, I’d convinced myself it was true. Fact. I was starting to see that facts could blur and re-form into something different if you let them.”

Tanya Boteju, Bruised (quoted from an advanced copy)

The diversity in this book is amazing though. I loved seeing such a diverse cast of characters and it truly made me happy! We have lots of different backgrounds, different sexualities, a non-binary character, a deaf character and possibly other things I forgot to mention.

About the characters though…not only Daya felt so distant for me. Everyone was, despite their diversity, not memorable or in-depth. I think I can describe every single character with two adjectives or less, like Daya’s love-interest was sweet…and supportive? Also, the romance was pretty mediocre. I didn’t really feel any chemistry and, again, I couldn’t feel a thing.

“Flowers are stronger than you think.”

Tanya Boteju, Bruised (quoted from an advanced copy)

So as you might notice, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this book. It’s not one of those books that infuriates me or anything, but it was pretty mediocre and just forgettable. I’ve seen other people loving it, but for me Bruised turned out to be a disappointing read that had a lot more potential, so I can’t give it anything except for two very empty-feeling stars.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way.


Now, that wasn’t the most positive review I’ve ever written, but I hope you enjoyed reading it nonetheless! Thank you for always being so supportive of me by the way, it truly means the world to me! I think it’s become pretty clear I was very disappointed in Bruised, but…

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12 thoughts on “Review: Bruised (Tanya Boteju) | I was ready to get hurt by this sapphic coming of age book that deals with grief

  1. I’m sorry Bruised didn’t live up to your expectations. I have it on my TBR so hopefully it won’t be disappointing for me.
    I think being disappointed in a book is one of the worst bookish things, especially when it’s not really that it was bad, but very lackluster. At least, Bruised has a diverse cast of characters, even though they’re not very developed.
    One of the most disappointing books for me was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I really believed it was going to become one of my new favourite books, but it ended up being a lame 2.5 star read :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was definitely disappointing for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be for you! Hope you enjoy it!!
      True, there’s a huge difference between feeling very meh and disappointed over a book and disliking it, you know? But yes, it has a diverse cast of characters which I’m very happy with.
      SUSANA FINALLY SOMEONE WHO AGREES WITH ME! I rated Addie LaRue 1 star I believe, while it was a highly anticipated 2020 release of mine. I just don’t see what other people see I guess! It didn’t have anything great for me lol, despite the concept being 10/10…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha, you’re one of the very few people I’ve seen who didnt like Addie LaRue either!!
        Same for me, I really do not get why people love it so much, although the concept is great 🤷‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it! I was interested in reading it, but yours is the second or third negative review I’ve read of it, so I don’t think I’ll be reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

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