By Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company Inc
Genre: YA Contemporary
Grace 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.
This was another buddy read with Debby @Always Booking, She is one of the few human beings that can tolerate co-op reading with me 😉 The list is short, trust me (It is Debby and Kim basically). As normal, we chose to exchange 5 questions regarding our time with the book and share our responses. You can find Debby’s review here.
My Questions & Debby’s Response to Bad Romance:
1. I am suffering a case of serious cover love with Bad Romance! So let’s hear it, thoughts?
I know this cover was so simple yet so gorgeous!! If I was passing it in the store, I would definitely stop and be like oooohhhh what is this all about??
2. In terms of the plot, what was your personal reading experience? Would you label this as a heavy read?
Personal reading experience, it definitely did not bring back many fond memories of a past relationship. It started out a little slow I had a hard time connecting with both main characters at first, then as the book progressed I started to connect to them. I wouldn’t say this book was heavy per se… but I would definitely put a big tag on it (not on the gorgeous cover) saying TRIGGER WARNINGS. It’s definitely not a fluffy romantic read.
3. How did you feel about Grace as a protagonist?
I loathed her in the beginning, but then began to like her more and more throughout. I felt she did grow as a character even though she went more backwards than forward at first.
4. What is the main message you took from your time with Bad Romance?
I don’t think there was just one main message with this book. There is one obvious main message with this book, but I think if you read it, really read it, you will find many more. The one I took away the most, is we are ALWAYS stronger than we think.
5. Would you recommend this book and if so, to who?
I think this book would be good for young women in this age when brooding men treating women bad is glorified. In books and on TV, the bad boy who pushes the girl away and treats her bad is the one she always goes back to no matter how badly he treats her. This is not what we should teach young ladies, this is not normal.
Debby’s Questions for Myself:
1. There are so many characters in this book, and it seems to revolve around the drama club. Who was your favorite “side” character and why??
I think it has to be a tie between Nat & Lys. They care so genuinely for Grace and her well-being. You really could not ask for a better set of friends. I love their ability to support her, but also put it on blast when the situation calls for it. They are not easily pushed around and are willing to step up for Grace.
2. Did you feel the author got her point across sufficiently or do you think she left too much unsaid?
I feel Demetrios accomplished something very important. She conveyed the reality of abuse and just how easy it can be to fall into a negative cycle or pattern before realizing the dangers. Her portrayal of Grace and Gavin’s relationship was relatable in a difficult and terrifying way. It was realistic and effective.
3. Do you think that you will read something else by Heather Demetrios after reading Bad Romance??
I am completely open to exploring more of her work. Her writing is fluid and easy. I enjoyed the pace and have a lot of respect for the message she delivered.
4.Would this book have been better narrated from dual POV’s? Maybe if we would’ve seen if Gavin had been getting help?
I am actually going to say “no” here. I feel that in order to understand Gavin, the book would have to be centered more on his mental health. And while that is an important topic that I encourage others to explore, I feel that doing so would have taken too much away from what Grace was experiencing on a personal level. The end result would not have been the same and may have failed to communicate the messaged centered around victims of abuse that the author intended.
5. Was there enough resolution for you at the end? Or do you think there should have been more?
I felt it was complete. This was Grace’s story of survival and overcoming. We witnessed her do both of these things. Adding more might have altered the story or shifted the focus in a wrong direction.
My Final Thoughts..
“I gave you my heart on a silver fucking platter and you ate it, piece by bloody piece.”
While Bad Romance was not as heavy as I originally anticipated, it was not with moments of justified and necessary discomfort. Demetrios has accomplished something of great value. She has taken a challenging and relevant topic and served it up in a digestible manner without sacrificing the significance and importance of her message.
A credible protagonist and familiar setting offer an honest and raw glimpse of abuse and how it can unexpectedly surface. Ingeniously narrated in 2nd person, Graces paints a vivid and insightful picture as she speaks directly to Gavin (you, the reader) about the experience of their relationship and the impact it had on her life. This perspective is not only highly effective but powerful. Each page resonates with the author’s own personal attachment to the topic.
I also want to give extra acknowledgement to the fact that the author has included invaluable resources for those who might find themselves in need of assistance by providing a list of organizations and where to seek help. This includes breakthecycle.org, where you can find additional information and resources if you or someone you know is a victim of abuse within a relationship.
Recommending this read to all young adults and teenagers or anyone who has ever directly or indirectly experienced an unhealthy relationship. *Bad Romance will contain triggers for some readers. This was definitely a welcomed and important addition to my shelves.
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