Grace, a high school junior, is the last one to see that the boy she fell in love with is no good for her.
A year into a relationship that started with her infatuation with Gavin, a senior who survived a suicide attempt, Grace wants desperately to get away from his increasingly controlling, jealous behavior. In a first-person narrative addressed to Gavin, Grace tries to work out how she got in over her head. Beginning with a melodramatic stream of consciousness, the novel turns into a well-crafted depiction of the processes that can lead an immature girl without the support of emotionally balanced adults into trouble. Grace’s mother plays the role of Contrite and Subservient Female to Grace’s stepfather, whom Grace calls The Giant. Despite warnings from her sister and close circle of friends, Grace can’t see that she’s heading the same way. Even when she recognizes that Gavin’s manipulating her, she’s taken in by his professed love for her, saying “it’s addictive, being someone’s everything. Letting them be yours. You’re the only drug I take.” She goes along with his rules about contact with other people and allows him to coerce her into sex, all the while feeling responsible for his emotional well-being. Grace’s ethnicity and looks are left vague, perhaps to underline the universality of emotional abuse, but the absence of markers to the contrary reinforces the white default.
A realistic, worthwhile look at dating violence and unhealthy relationships. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)