Published: May 1st 2011, Flux
Pages: 245 pages, paperback
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): Tonight was so much worse than anything before it. Tonight he didn't stop after the first slap.
At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved — and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything — and everyone — in its path.
My review: But I Love Him is not only a beautifully written book, it's also a very important one. Abusive relationships and domestic abuse are certainly two themes that are very rarely written about in YA, if at all. Amanda Grace manages to write a sensitive, heartfelt story and I'm sure will make all of us question what we would really do in that situation.
Of course, I'm sure almost everybody (myself included) has boldly said, 'if my partner hit me I'd be out of there', or words to that effect. I'm sure that's what we all like to think we'd do but Grace explores why some people don't, or can't, just walk away. I did have reservations about this book because my thoughts on abusive relationships are so strong (not that I've ever experienced anything like it in any shape or form) and I thought I'd just end up getting angry and frustrated. However, I think writing the story backwards was an absolute stroke of genius.
I will admit that in the first few chapters I really didn't have any sympathy for Ann. Probably harsh but that's how I felt and I wonder if that's was Grace's intention as my initial feelings made this book even more powerful as I read more of the story. I couldn't feel bad for her because I couldn't comprehend why she didn't jump up and leave, or why she hadn't jumped up and left the first time. However, what Grace does so cleverly is go back through the history of their relationship and show us how Ann found herself in this situation and why she won't, or can't, leave.
I wouldn't say that I necessarily enjoyed this book because the subject matter isn't pleasant to read about, nor are there any light-hearted moments in this story. We don't go far back enough to see Ann how she was before Connor, only snatches of how her life used to be. What we do see is her gradually fall underneath Connor's spell and a glimpse into what her future could be like, in the heartbreaking scenes with Connor's broken mother.
This book certainly won't cheer you up on a rainy afternoon or make you smile from ear to ear but it will make you think a lot, probably make you cry and definitely make you want to find your partner and give them a big fat hug for not being an abusive douchebag.
First line: 'I lie in pieces on the floor.'
Read if you liked…: The Beginning of After - Jennifer Castle
Total: 16/20 (B+)