Book: Bad Romance
Author: Heather Demetrios
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
My rating: ★★★★
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.
I have been avoiding this review because the subject matter is so heavy. I was afraid to even pick up the book due to the content. When I was 19-20 I was in an abusive relationship. It was mostly emotional abuse (although I did get pushed once) so as you can imagine, picking up a book that’s all about young adult romance + abuse made me nervous. However, Julie was hosting a buddy read on twitter, so I felt it was the right time to give Bad Romance a try. I now feel comfortable at this point in my life to read (and talk) about it.
I want to mention the trigger warnings first: mental, physical, and emotional abuse. Sexual abuse and rape by a partner. There is also thoughts of suicide and attempts of suicide. Verbal and physical abuse from parents is also present.
All the tabs you see here are the parts that reminded me of my past relationship. I can’t even bring myself to flip through them again. This book is very haunting and gives such an accurate portrayal of an abusive relationship (at least to me). It makes me think so many what-ifs about my past. But, I’m not going to get into that here. Instead I want to discuss some of the main points in the book.
One thing that stuck out to me was the narrative. It switches between first and second person. Grace refers to the reader as “you”, which makes it sound like a letter to Gavin. It’s as if she’s talking to us (and Gavin) after all the events in the book took place. So we know right off the bat that things are about to get much, much worse for Grace.
The story begins with Grace explaining how it’ll take an entire year before she will get the courage to leave her toxic relationship with Gavin. Things start out “perfect”: the hottest boy falls for her, he treats her like a queen, calls her beautiful, and he “saves” her from her abusive mother and stepfather. All these “sweet” things Gavin does are the first steps in Grace’s manipulation.
Then things slowly start to go downhill: Gavin becomes possessive. He starts to make “rules” about what Grace can/can’t do (such as no hugging the opposite sex). He convinces her to sneak out in the middle of the night, and then eventually pressures Grace to have sex. The story eventually culminates to Gavin threatening (and attempting) suicide when Grace breaks up with him. Once again, Grace feels morally obligated to stay with Gavin. The vicious cycle continues.
What makes things so much worse is that Grace’s home life is so terrible that she believes Gavin is truly saving her. She can’t see Gavin’s “love” is a form of abuse because it’s so different from the type of emotional and physical abuse she receives at home. I can’t even count how many times I got so angry at Grace’s mother and stepfather.
I’m going to leave my review as is. I know it’s not my typical kind of review where I go through all the things I liked and disliked. However, there are some strong female friendships in this book which I really appreciated. In those tough times, I truly valued my friends to lean on.
Below are hotline numbers that were included in the book. And if you do decide to read this book, please know it’s okay to put it down. It’s okay to stop reading if things get too hard. ❤
These hotlines are free, private, and open 24 hours a day:
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
Other great resources: