“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. This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong.”
I only write reviews on books if they really get to me and/or I think they are just amazing. If you wish to read this book in the near future, do not continue to read this review as it contains spoilers.
This is your usual teenage love story, with an evil, heartbreaking twist. I quite enjoy reading abuse/domestic violence novels; NOT because I enjoy that aspect of them, BUT because it gives you an insight into the thoughts and feelings of the abused and the abuser. When we see or hear about relationships in which domestic violence takes place, both emotional and/or physical, our initial reaction is anger at both parties. We feel the justified anger towards the bully and then we feel the unexpected anger towards the victim. We feel angry that they are letting themselves become the victim, that they endure the abuse and that they are not walking away.
So this leads to the inevitable question: WHY DOES A VICTIM IN A RELATIONSHIP NOT WALK AWAY?
To those of us who have never been in their shoes, we judge quickly and soundly. But when you read fiction or non-fiction based on this theme, you finally understand why the may choose to stay in the relationship and endure the abuse.
In this beautiful, but twisted novel, the answer to why she stays is simple: LOVE.
She is so deeply and irrevocably in love with him that it almost borderlines obsession. You can feel her love for him, its almost a need rather than a want. This is the type of love that I sometimes find myself dreaming about, but is it too unhealthy? Will it be too suffocating in the long run? Because the victim in this love story lost herself, her character, her friends and her family over to this love. It literally consumed her, mentally and physically. Yet this is still something we all want? But that makes me ask why?
Why are we allowed to feel something so intense, so beautifully overwhelming with another person in this world if it’s no good for us? If we are only allowed to have a taste but then we have to walk away? Surely life can’t be that cruel can it?
When you start reading this book, you will be surprised (and like me a bit annoyed) to find that the book is written in reverse chronological order, starting from the present and then working its way to the past. At first I found this quite annoying, but as you get nearer the end of the book you realise that it was a genius decision by the author. It makes the impact of the storyline more intense and shows you how something so bad was, at the beginning very innocent, sweet, and promising.
The snippet’s that we see of the couple at the beginning of their love story just really embraced and put emphasis on the fact that even violent relationships really do start out as innocent and beautiful as every other normal relationship. The character’s in the beginning of their journey were shy, sweet, felt the butterflies, wanted to spend every minute of the day together, experienced racing hearts at the sight of one another and truly expressed the beginnings of a “Romeo and Juliet”.
The author did a brilliant job at showing how one partner doesn’t just become violent overnight, she showed how it’s the little things that finally became the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The one thing about this book that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED was actually the one thing that I didn’t like in the beginning. It relates to the reverse chronological order of the book. After going through this couple’s relationship with them, after feeling their happiness, their heartbreak, and vicariously feeling the love, the fear and the hate, I think the final line of the book was just so strong and perfect. It really put the whole thing into perspective and makes you think twice about abusive relationships and our preconceived thoughts about them. If you have read or do read the book, you will realise why the last chapter of the book creates such an impact.
The last lines and my favourite lines of the book:
“My name is Ann, by the way.” And then I awkwardly stick my hand out. “Oh, sorry.” He wipes his hand on his jeans and holds it out. “I’m Connor.”