Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios is a YA Contemporary Romance coming out on June 13th, 2017! Thank you to Henry Holt for the advance reader copy and it in no way altered or influenced my review or opinions. Check out my rave review below and be sure to add Bad Romance to your TBR!
Category: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication: June 13th, 2017; Henry Holt/BYR
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.
Unapologetic, real, unabashedly honest, Bad Romance is probably the best break-up story I have ever read.
First of all, the way this story is told is outstanding. Brilliant. It starts after the relationship has ended. Grace starts at the beginning and lets it all unfold. And the formatting is almost written like a letter to Gavin. An outside look at how their relationship went down. But an outside look from the inside, if that makes sense.
What could ultimately be the most depressing story—one that would be frustrating and impossible to finish—is told in such a way that you cannot help but be enraptured. It in no way glorifies abusive relationships. I just mean that Grace tells her story with wit and humor. Her voice is remarkably relatable. Most importantly, though, is that as she narrates the story, she often tosses in comments that make the reader realize hindsight is 20/20. She was able to look back and SEE what everyone else had known all along. Worst of all, is the home life that probably drew her eyes to Gavin in the first place. Her mom is in an unhealthy relationship, and you can’t help but see the cycle continuing.
For all the negative relationships in her life, Grace has some amazing female friends. Ones who always have her back. Strong characters who are the voice of reason—even when Grace was blind to the truth. Also included are the “normal” variety males who prove that this behavior ISN’T typical and you CAN be loved/cared about without having to give up pieces of yourself.
Now, even knowing how it ended, I really was able to see things from the past Grace’s point of view. Finally attaining the dream guy. Believing yourself unworthy of someone so seemingly out of your league… haven’t we all thought that at some point? And as things slowly unraveled, I couldn’t help but understand her feelings. I couldn’t help but think he had faults, but he loved her. In his own fucked up way, I’m sure he did. But that way was dangerous. Time and time again.
A moment of honesty: I dated a guy who was a bit like Gavin. We were younger (sophomores in high school), but things just moved quickly. He said “I love you” and I didn’t. I wasn’t there. It had been two months, I was young, and…it just wasn’t me. But he was troubled. He didn’t like guys talking to me. He accused me of wanting other guys. He’d get drunk and call me names. He was expelled from school for showing up drunk. A few months later, he heard an older guy had a crush on me. He showed up at his house, confronted him, threatened to beat him up if he spoke to me. Finally, I’d had enough. After 7 short months, I got out. And that night, received a call from his mother that he’d swallowed a bottle of pills. He called me from the hospital and wanted to get back together. Thankfully, I realized that that would have been a big mistake I’d never recover from. And once he was released from the hospital, he tried calling me again. The first few times I answered and we chatted a bit. But it never felt the same. Even friendship was too much. We were on separate paths in life. So, I walked away completely. And after reading this story, I’m so grateful I did. My life and mental stability could have suffered irreversible consequences.
Anyway, this is an extraordinarily important book. It can empower those who feel there is no way out. Those who feel stuck in a situation they desperately want out of. It’s heartbreaking at times—I felt myself wishing Gavin could just be who she needed him to be. Someone supportive. Someone who wanted happiness for her. Who wanted Grace’s dreams to become reality. And in a messed up way, I think he believed that’s what he was doing. And at times, he was sweet. Sickeningly so. And it was those moments that I felt connected to Grace the most. Because for all the bad, he did have good in him, too. It just wasn’t enough. And the bad was toxic. Irrevocable.
A cautionary tale, Bad Romance is a must read for women of all ages, regardless of their current romantic status.