Marie mentioned she’d like to read my review of Bad Romance… that gave me the motivation to pull my thoughts together to post that review!!
by Heather Demetrios
Published June 13th 2017
by Henry Holt and Co.
Grace lives in an abusive home with a mother who punishes by being controlling and a stepfather who uses fear to control. Until she can leave her small town she subsists on big dreams… dreams of becoming a New York stage director. Then along comes Gavin… the star of their school, charming, talented and adored. When Grace and Gavin fall in love a dark side shadows over her joy… Will love become as much of a prison as her home life?
Contemporary! Friendship! Emotional Abuse! First Love! Mental Health! Relationship Abuse! Letter Narrative!
Told as a long letter to her abuser Grace lets us in on everything going on in an open and brave way. This is a VERY important book focused on revealing what relationship abuse looks like… and it does an excellent job showing how the home life of Grace is part of that abuse cycle. I really feel that every female should read this book and understand how this type of relationship FEELS… you are totally drawn in and truly in love! There was nothing stupid about Grace… there were warning signs and not having been in love before she didn’t recognize that they were telling her of danger and control. The friendship between Grace and her two friends was so special! I was happy that she wasn’t breaking free alone and isolated.
Okay, so yeah important and illuminating… but I’ve got to put a disclaimer on it all! I LOVE romance and reading about emotions and feels, but to have what is normally a good thing be portrayed as something wrong and evil… It’s terribly depressing. Literally the same words that would be used to describe a healthy and loving relationship were used to describe this dark and abusive one. I read this in November and was swept into the WORST reading slump I’ve ever experienced in my life DUE TO THIS BOOK. So if you LOVE romance too then you need to be really particular when you read this and have a really good headspace so it doesn’t hit you out of left field.
I love, love, love this cover. It totally drew me into this book despite such a scary title!! I just love symbolism and the rotting flowers says it all…
Why do I feel this book is so important?
Not much can spoil this book because its about the emotions and journey rather than specific details or events… but I won’t say too much.
Abuse in the home makes you more vulnerable to abuse in relationships.
Her mother is abused and as a result has become mentally ill to cope. This abuse is all about controlling the people in their lives. It’s distressing and disturbing because I believe doing chores at home is a good thing as is sacrificing some things for family and love! This is a cocktail that would mess up any woman let alone a teenager whose brain is still processing right and wrong…
Friendship is important to stay mentally healthy.
We read about it all the time! The only person is a character’s life is a best friend and they are pushed to the side for the new love interest who rules the MC’s life through the rest of the book. You have to make time for friends and actually they can help keep you sane, being a sounding board and a voice of reason when emotions are swamping you. Nat and Alyse were exactly that for Grace and didn’t give up on her… such great examples of friendship!
It’s ALL in YOUR hands to ACT!
I know… probably not what you were expecting for my last important reason… One of Grace’s main problems was she didn’t DO what she needed to do to deal with her mom. There was no escaping it… the chores and making her late is not abuse to the state… so DEAL WITH IT! Lie to give yourself time to get there, do the chores BEFORE, spend “whining” time doing what you need to do instead of dwelling. The same with Gavin… you chose to respond to his words, his words aren’t evil… his desire for control was! You wouldn’t know that until his actions told you to walk away…
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building
As a writer I applaud putting your characters through the ringer! These experiences are what forms a person and isn’t that what we are trying to show through characters?! A person trying to make what they can of their life despite difficulties. Grace had built up Gavin to such heights that he was a god to her… that part felt real and so true to high school girls, you understood with the poetic way she saw Gavin that it wasn’t a healthy relationship from the start. But that is part of life and learning to understand the difference is part of what this book illustrates to its readers!
As a writer I also don’t want to get too depressing… I feel like hope (without being TOO idealistic) is where we can help influence readers. This was so unrelentingly depressing… I understand the sentiment behind the story and I APPLAUD it but GAH it’s also misrepresenting love (to a point). Cute touching things said aren’t the enemy… the motives behind them are… the man you date later is going to talk about the cute things you do too!!! And having a budget and using only so much money isn’t controlling unless it’s used to emotionally blackmail you… Also a relationship is a TWO way street… woman shouldn’t be controlling either!
While I believe this took a rather black and white view of what is right and wrong in a romance I do find the overall message quite important! Abuse and control is not meant to be a part of love… sacrifice and hope is… And Bad Romance illustrates that well… to the hearts of every woman who reads it!
What other important reads are in YA?!
Sometimes a message is so powerful that it rises above the original material and becomes a part of society’s larger consciousness… Have you read this book? Do you feel it is one of those books?!
Thanks for Reading XOXO