“Do you ever feel so trapped you can hardly breathe?”
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.
Bad Romance is a dark, unflinching, raw and realistic story about abusive relationship and the effects it leaves to the people involve.
Grace a junior high school is living a crazy life with her OCD Mom and maybe equally crazy and strict step father. Life at home for her is pretty hard. So when rock star senior, charming, talented Gavin Davis enter her life with his shining armor, she cannot help but fall in love hard and fast. Soon she found herself in a toxic relationship with a controlling and dangerous Gavin.
“You’re a maze, all high hedges 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 dead end. I keep winding up back where I’ve started.”
The story is pretty straight forward, no puzzle to solve or ending to anticipate. This is not that kind of story, instead of the ending this is all about the journey — a tough and dark journey for the characters and for readers.
Bad Romance is written in first-person narrative but instead of directing to readers the main character Grace is addressing the story to another character, her boyfriend then Gavin. It’s like a letter or diary, where Grace is explaining to Gavin through the readers how their story end the way it ended. Right from the start readers will know that Grace and Gavin’s relationship not ended well. So basically no surprises in that. We all know they don’t have a happily ever after. The only thing to discover is why and how they reached that end? And that discovery will trigger a lot of emotions to readers. Grace narration will hit the core, even if you are not in a situation like her. Reading her story feels like reading a diary of a friend, sometimes you feel helpless wanting to do something for her but can’t. That even everything happened in the past and that you can only wish that you were there for her, you still hope there is something you can do for Grace. Or wish that you were there if only to smack Grace on the head, to make her realize and see things.
Unlike with some books that I have read, Bad Romance does not romanticize abusive relationship and for that I applaud the author Heather Demetrios. This is a tough read for me, not because I can relate but because the characters feels like fully realized people and the situations are realistically painful and intense. Not only you will wish there is something you can do for Grace but also you will want to really put an end to her suffering, to finally get herself out in a cage she’s in.
Demetrios tackles heavy issues of abuse, suicide, poverty, self-doubt, and mental health, which all in all could have made this an “issue” book, but instead become a unravelling story of someone’s finding courage – courage to let go, to fight for freedom, and most importantly to love her own self. Grace and Gavin’s story let readers see and experience the brutal and dark but sensitive, honest, and realistic story of a toxic and unhealthy relationship without being in one. I really hope no one will find themselves in a situation like Grace, or if you are one, I hope this book make you realize that you have the power and the choice, even if you are feeling trapped and caged. Life is what you make it.
* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.