A debut novel shows that abusive relationships can occur in upper-middle-class suburban towns involving victims smart enough to know better.
Conducting an interview for her summer internship, 17-year-old Indian Valley resident Chloe Quinn encounters Kieran Dubrowski for the first time—and thinks he is annoying and intrusive. But Kieran is obviously interested in her. And with her brother and best friend both at camps, her father living with his girlfriend in New York City, and her mother escaping her marital difficulties with prescription medication and alcohol, Chloe not only agrees to go out with Kiernan, but finds his attention flattering. She overlooks his possessiveness—gratified that he is that involved with her—and dismisses his violent temper as an unfortunate result of his broken home. If her other friends seem resentful, she reasons that they are probably just jealous that she has a boyfriend. As Kieran’s behavior grows increasingly erratic, Chloe finally realizes that she needs to end the relationship, but her attempts to distance herself only lead to greater peril. Kieran proves himself to be not just abusive and emotionally disturbed, but also incredibly devious and canny, as he tries to turn the tables on her. Will Chloe break free, restore her battered relationships with friends and family, and regain her self-confidence? Hoag (co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, 2014, etc.) creates teenage characters that are realistic, contemporary adolescents, not the typically idealized innocents. While there are hints of Kieran’s true nature, he is at first a likable character, if a bit narcissistic. Chloe’s vulnerability, due to her father’s physical and mother’s emotional desertions, enhance the reader’s ability to sympathize with her. Although largely a cautionary tale, the novel also contains enough suspense to keep it from becoming preachy. Teens may read it for the story, belatedly realizing that they’ve learned a lesson.
An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.