June 21, 2017

I Want Your Ugly • Bad Romance

All Grace wants is to escape – her messed up home life, her small California town, her current circumstances. And when Gavin, talented, sweet, adoring Gavin, shows up, and they fall head over heels in love, things seem to be looking up. But the truth is that Gavin is more dangerous than he seems, and suddenly Grace finds herself trapped in one bad romance. (Major trigger warning for abusive relationships.)

Bad Romance book cover
Plot? While I would necessarily say that I enjoyed reading Bad Romance, the story is compelling. In the way that a train wreck that is happening right in front of your face is, I mean. I knew going into it that things would not go well for Grace, and that she would be a victim in her romance, but it didn’t stop me from turning the pages to find out what would happen next. It didn’t stop me from hoping that things would get better for her, that she would be strong enough to change her circumstances. It is the kind of story that opens a conversation about abusive relationships, particularly the fact that each one has its own subtleties, difficulties and nuances. Powerful and compelling, I couldn’t set it down once I’d gotten hooked on finding out how Grace and Gavin’s story would play out.

Characters? It is easy to empathize with Grace, especially you realize that life has dealt her a pretty shitty hand. She has a terrible home life, and finds herself locked in this toxic relationship that she can’t find her way out of, and her future dreams of being somewhere else and doing something else seem so far away. I wanted her to be able to have the future she dreamt of; I cheered on the supportive older sister and best friends who were trying to encourage her to fight for better treatment and the future she deserved. It was rough to see her fall time and time again, but I couldn’t feel anything but sorrow for her and understanding for why she made the choices she did again and again. Majority of the other characters in this novel were not at all likable (except for her older sister and her best friends), though the reader is exposed to a few of the secondary characters’ vulnerabilities too. 

Writing? It took me a while to get used to the voice that Demetrios uses (a second person POV where it appears that Grace is addressing the entire novel to Gavin). But once it clicked, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this story. It was oddly compelling despite the difficult subject matter, and it is a testament to Demetrios’ storytelling ability that she was able to get me reading something that’s not necessarily in my comfort zone – and help me to understand just what these characters were feeling whenever they chose to do the things they did.

Overall? As I already said, Bad Romance is an important novel for the way that it starts a conversation about abusive relationships – particularly among teenagers. It is a difficult read, but it is also a powerful one. While I won’t give a general recommendation for this story, I will say that I thought it was worth the time I spent reading it.

Favorite musical theater show? Musical theater has been a part of my life since high school, and it’s even how I met my husband (since we were both involved with a musical theater organization at our university). I love a lot of shows, but I that the one that has stuck with me through the years since I first heard it is Wicked. I loved this creative take on the story of the Wicked Witch, and I think the music is a lot of fun too. I have seen it a few times since, and it’s always been such an incredible, enjoyable production.

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) | Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)


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