For What It's Worth

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

review: Bad romance by heather demetrios


IMG_20170612_123908_087Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again. ~
Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review:

I was hesitant to read another book about an abusive relationship because they usually 1) glamorize the abuser and 2) send in another boy to *rescue* her, but I loved I’ll Meet You There by Demetrios. It was raw and gritty and I trusted her to get it right – and oh boy did she get it right.

Grace tells the reader the story of how she fell for the enigmatic Gavin and then her struggle back from all the damage he leaves in his wake.

Grace is from a poor, California town with a toxic home life. Her father suffers from PTSD, abandoned the family and is addicted to drugs. Her mother moved on to an abusive husband. Grace calls them the “Contrite and Subservient Female” and “The Giant”. Grace has a front row seat to an abusive relationship. She knows it’s bad, is mad that her mother doesn’t fight back or leave. She has big dreams of getting out of her small town and moving to NYC or Paris, is active in her school theater and is surrounded by supportive friends but is still left vulnerable because of the abuse and the constant fear at home.

Bad Romance shows how it begins – the boy who is artistic, witty, supportive and showers her in hearts and flowers…then slowly manipulates, isolates and chips away at that confidence.

I don’t want to give a lot away. I think this book is best read without knowing too much. This isn’t about who Grace ends up with or if she can save the boy or find a new boy to make her whole again. This is about how this could happen to anyone and that yes, there is a way out.

I’ve had several friends endure abusive relationships. So many things that happened to Grace happened to them, almost verbatim. It was really difficult to read at times. This isn’t a swoony YA romance but it’s powerful, important and hopeful with beautiful friendships.

It’s also incredibly well written. There aren’t simply good guys vs bad guys. You will definitely not be a fan of her mom, step father or Gavin but you can see the reasons behind their actions (or inaction). Despite the story being told in second person, past tense, I felt like I was right there – every step of the way with Grace. The pacing is brutal but excellent. I read Bad Romance in just a few hours.

I think everyone should be reading this book – boys, girls, parents. Not every case looks like Grace’s but there are universal signs to watch for and ways to help and this book is a good starting point.

I don’t usually mention trigger warnings but this is a particularly intense book so highlight below if you need to know:

emotional/verbal abuse, talk of/attempted suicide, non consensual sex

*I want to take the time to recommend another book that I reviewed way back in 2010 about domestic violence from a boy’s POV. He was both a victim and potential abuser and it’s about his struggles to recognize the cycle and learn better coping mechanisms for s anger- SPLIT by Swati Avasthi

25 comments:

  1. I had to read the trigger warning, just had to

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  2. I've seen this book everywhere and every review has the same warnings, I want to read it but at the same time I'm a little hesitant. Great review though and thanks for providing the warnings!

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    1. I felt like I had to put it in there but I don't want to deter anyone. This is a GOOD book and she writes it so well. And it is a hopeful story with great friendships - both male and female.

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  3. This isn't usually my genre but every once in a while I like to read them. I read Split a while ago but it's definitely one that's stuck with me.

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    1. Oh yay! Another Split fan. That was one of the first books I reviewed here.

      Bad Romance is SO freaking good though. I hope you give it a shot.

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  4. I'm glad you said how the abuse was addressed because that element is important to me if an author chooses to go there. Definitely want to read it.

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    1. It's one of the best representations I've read.

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  5. Thanks for reccing Split. I think I told you that I'm a wuss (and those triggers man), but I am SOO curious.

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    1. I could give you the details if you want. It's not non stop violence or anything and more psychological but it's intense and raw.

      It's REALLY good.

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  6. Thank youuuuuu for the warning. If I had read it I would have been pissed not knowing it going in.

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    1. No problem. I think everything was handled really well by the author but this isn't the usual way YA talks about abusive relationships. It's real and not romanticized and might be too much for some.

      But I keep wanting to point out that there is also humor and brightness within the story so it's well worth reading!

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  7. I'm glad the abuse was addressed in this way. I'm with you, I hate when it is glamorized or she needs a savior. I think I do need to read this one. Brilly review.

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    1. It's SO good and absolutely not romanticized in any way and no white night boy to save her - although there are good guys (and girls) that help.

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  8. Awesome review! I might just go ahead and buy a copy of this book myself. I've read so many great reviews of it, and I feel like it'll be difficult for me to read because of personal reasons but I really do want to read it too. I love reading about complicated or abusive relationships regardless. Thanks for the review! Glad you thought it didn't romanticise the abuse relationship aspect!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

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    1. It was hard for me too (for personal reasons as well) but it was nice to read a portrayal that was realistic and not romanticized.

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  9. Wonderful review. I love the message, it's an important one

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  10. Ergs 2nd person? I've only read one with that and ended up DNFing. It hurt my head. lol I'm glad this one worked for you even with the subject matter.

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    1. Agree - but in this case you barely notice. The story moves along so smoothly and it's like you are right there with Grace. It couldn't have been told this well any other way.

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  11. I'm desperate to read this one too Karen, being able to relate to Grace's narration all too well unfortunately, but one I'll need to brace myself for. Even the most confronting stories are so important to tell, even more so. Wonderful review Karen and thank you for the warning <3 <3

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  12. I'm eager to read this but also intimidated because depictions of abusive relationships in fiction aren't always done well. I've heard mixed things but I hear the portrayal of the abuse and how folks end up in abusive relationships was done well so I'll hold out and get me a copy soon. I might check out a few other reviews before investing, though.

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    1. I hadn't heard anything negative about this one yet. From my own personal experience, it was spot on and it's drawn from the authors own life and abusive relationship.

      But no one book can portray everyone's situation so it might not work for everyone of course.

      It's one of the few YA books that explored this topic that didn't turn it into finding a new boy or make the abuser into a boy needing to be saved by the love of the right girl.

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