Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Bad Romance

Bad RomanceAbout the Book:
Title: Bad Romance
Author: Heather Demetrios
Pub. Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


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.


“Maybe the only way you really know you love someone is it they can break you with a single sentence.” 

I am absolutely blown away by this novel by Heather Demetrios. It is an incredibly powerful read that I personally think everyone should pick up. I didn't go into this book expecting to like is as much as I fact I was praying that it was executed better than another book I read about a year ago that had a similar theme. And this book was everything that I was wanting that other book to be. Ms. Demetrios doesn't shy away from anything and because of that there should definitely be a trigger warning on this book. However, those triggers are what make up the best (and worst) parts of this book. Let me say, there is absolutely nothing bad about this book, so when I say worst, I mean the terrible nature of events the character has to go through in this story. 

“This is something else I will learn while I am with you-not now, but later: there are so many ways to drown.” 

The entire book is such a vivid and emotional story told from the 2nd person POV. Normally I hate these types of books and unless it is done well, I usually DNF it. But Bad Romance grips you right from the start. The fear, anxiety, anger, and other range of emotions our narrator feels is palpable in every single word your read. There is something very evocative about Ms. Demetrios' writing and this is where the story excelled. She didn't try to wrap things up in a pretty bow and cover up the worst parts of people. Instead she explored what it truly means to be in multiple toxic relationships, ones that no one in this world should have to endure. 

“This house is a prison, a suburban Alcatraz.” 

Even though this story is told in 2nd person, you get into Grace's head very easily. You feel what she is feeling. You feel how suffocated she is by her town and how much she is yearning to break free. You see just how damaging unsupportive parents and a very difficult home life can be for a person, as well as how much that affects every other decision in their life. How the things she witnesses or is involved with at home truly make up how she is as a person. Ms. Demetrios even uses phrases such as "The Giant" to describe Grace's stepfather and "Contrite and Subservient Female" to describe her mother. This tells you a lot right off the bat, and I knew that this is the story that I wanted to be reading last year. 

“Something in me is dimming, something that I already know I can’t get back. But you’re worth it. You are. I will tell myself this for several more months. And when I realize you aren’t worth it, it’ll be too late.” 

While reading this book, your heart just breaks for Grace. Everything that is her life-- from the chaotic and torturous relationship she has with her family to the slowly worsening/complicated relationship she has with Gavin--makes things more raw and poignant. I hated her mother and stepfather, yet Ms. Demetrios shows more human sides of these characters that leave you (as well as Grace) with conflicting emotions. You start to sit and wonder, should I actually be hating these characters? Should I feel sympathy for them? And that right there is extremely powerful. Because that is the exact emotional rollercoaster that many people who are in Grace's exact position feel as well. 

“When you're a stupid girl in love, it's almost impossible to see the red flags. It's so easy to pretend they're not there, to pretend everything is perfect.” 

And then there's Gavin. Even though we know the only outcome is a bad outcome right from the start, as soon as we're introduced to Gavin's character we see his appeal. He has that bad-boy-who- is-a-tortured-soul personality. We see why Grace was drawn to him and his heartbreak. Grace thinks that she and Gavin are two people cut from the same cloth...both suffering in ways deeper than most people are willing to look. Grace thinks that the two of them together will be the love she has always wanted and needed in her life, and that together they can overcome anything. They will help build each other up and support each other no matter what. And here is the question of the day...who wouldn't want that? There is no doubt what she saw in Gavin. This is another area where this book excelled: it makes you understand why people can ignore the signs of/actual controlling behavior because they need the person that badly; it makes you understand how a person could feel responsible for the other's well being especially when that person's well being is threatened by themselves; it makes you understand how difficult it is to break a toxic relationship because you only realize that you are in a toxic situation much too late. 

“You're a maze, all high edges and endless loops. I can't find a way out, can't see where I've been. It's all running, lost in the dark of you. Trapped. Everywhere I turn is a dead end. I keep winding up back where I've started.” 

One other thing that I want to highlight about this book is the female friendships. Grace, Lys, and Nat were the perfect trio. Lys and Nat are the kinds of friends every girl should have, even though they were all so different. They were there for Grace whenever she needed them, despite the fact that Grace wasn't always there for them. They brought humor to an otherwise very dark book. 

“We all wear strange armor to get through the day.” 

Bad Romance is a gripping read that should be read by everyone. It explores themes that are not well discussed in literature today and gives you a very realistic insight into what it means to be surrounded by toxic people/relationships. It shows how abuse tends to be cyclical in nature, and Ms. Demetrios doesn't sugarcoat anything. The 2nd person POV gives the story an added layer of drama that worked very well for this type of story. This is an important novel for everyone, so go read it now.

Happy reading :)


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