I received this book for free from Traded in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on June 13th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Wow. That was my reaction as I came to the end of this book. Heather Demetrios has written another powerful and poignant read that will leave a mark on its readers.
This story is told by Grace as if she is going back to the beginning of her relationship with Gavin and is telling him their story, and how everything went wrong. I don’t think I’ve read many books told in 2nd person but it worked really well here as we not only get to be told the story but the format allows an outlet for Grace to get her feelings out to Gavin as she does tell it. We meet this bubbly and happy girl who is a dreamer and full of life. Her home life, however, is atrocious. She is basically treated like Cinderella with her step-father’s demanding ways and her mother’s OCD. Grace is counting down the days until she can leave and follow her dreams of moving to NYC to pursue a life in the theatre. She had this crush on the theatre’s bad boy rocker and when his girlfriend breaks up with him leading to a breakdown, he comes back around with his sights set on Grace.
Since we start from the very beginning, we sort of walk through the stages of the early relationship – all the swoony love and happy times of something new – but then we also get to pick up on little signs and red flags that Grace pinpoints as things she wished she noticed before. Gavin appeared to be this guy who would do anything for Grace and she immediately fell into this all encompassing love with him. Slowing the relationship turns completely toxic. It starts with moments of belittling and demeaning Grace and warps into something more manipulative, possessive, and stalkerish. The more this continued the more you see the little pieces of Grace deteriorate. The back and forth of Gavin’s erratic behavior, treating her terribly and then turning around with an apology, felt pretty realistic and wrecked so hard on Grace’s emotional state. The evolution of what abuse can do to someone is quite tragic and my heart hurt for Grace.
I’m thankful the author included so much of who Grace was without Gavin in this story to balance out all the heavy with her relationships with Gavin and her family. She had an amazing set of friends that were a great support system. They had so much fun together! I especially loved their annual Christmas sleepover to exchange presents since that was something I did with my group of friends in high school as well and I have some very fond memories of those.
This story is so hard to read yet so important to read. Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes and is never okay. Getting through it is not easy. This book is not easy. I’m very thankful to the author for writing this story and all the ugly truths within. All the way through and until I closed the book on the last page I had no idea how things would end for our main character. I was left feeling a little wrecked emotionally but with a bit of hope for Grace and those who also find themselves in similar situations. I think this book will be extremely relatable to a lot of people and I hope it empowers them all.