Monday, July 18, 2011

But I Love Him

I rarely read teasers posted on people's blogs, because I tend to be the kind of Type A personality that wants to be able to read the whole piece right away if I like the sample. But before I learned this lesson, I read a sample of a work in progress called "Shattered" by Mandy Hubbard (no relation to me). In fact, this was one of the writing samples that was responsible for my policy of reading very few teasers. I commented right away that I wanted to read the whole "Shattered" project, and I rooted for it the whole time it was on submission. Finally, it is out in published form, under a different title and a pen name (the pen name chosen not to keep her identity secret, but to distinguish this darker, serious book from Mandy Hubbard's lighter works, Prada and Prejudice and You Wish):

But I Love Him, by Amanda Grace. This contemporary YA novel starts with Ann, who has just been beaten by her boyfriend, and unfolds in reverse chronological order over the year she has been involved with him. How did she, a college-bound student with friends and an interest in sports, change into a girl whose whole world revolved around one person? And when did it change from something lovely and exciting into a relationship ruled by fear and regret? This book shows that there is no one moment when such changes occur, but rather there are threads and complications. There are good times that keep the main character hooked even when the bad times get worse. And most of all, Ann stays because of her intense sense of being needed.

I applaud the author for not painting the abusive boyfriend as an unrelieved villain. I've never been a big fan of making any single character an embodiment of evil. I think that dividing people into a binary world of good-or-evil not only allows us to demonize some, but also blinds us to the evil that may be done by people who are otherwise charming. In this book, the boyfriend, Connor, is not just possessive, impulsive, and violent. He is at times depressed and needy; he is at other times sweet and understanding. He is not only a perpetrator of violence, but a victim. In other words, he is fully realized. If he were a full-time monster, he would be easy for Ann to walk away from. Instead, Ann has to sort through the complexities of her own needs, and to decide whether the forces that draw her to Connor can survive the pain of being with him. She starts out with a notion that her love can fix him, and that notion is severely challenged.

In the end, while Connor's behavior is explained by the author, it is not excused, and this is Ann's story, with Ann's decision to make.

source of recommended read: bought


  1. BUT I LOVE HIM sounds like a well-done, true-to-life depiction of very real and scary situations all around us. Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to reading this novel.