Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Bad Romance

Rate this book
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.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published June 13, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Heather Demetrios

12 books1,448 followers
Heather Demetrios is a critically acclaimed author, writing coach, and certified meditation teacher. She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the PEN America Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Her novels include Little Universes, I’ll Meet You There, Bad Romance, as well as the Dark Caravan fantasy series: Exquisite Captive, Blood Passage, and Freedom’s Slave. Her non-fiction includes the Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection Code Name Badass: The True Story of Virginia Hall, and she is the editor of Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love. Her honors include books that have been named Bank Street Best Children’s Books, YALSA Best Fiction For Young Adults selections, a Goodreads Choice Nominee, a Kirkus Best Book, and a Barnes and Noble Best Book. Her work has appeared in LA Review of Books, Bustle, School Library Journal, and other fine outlets.

In addition to her writing, Heather is passionate about bringing words and mindfulness to women in the refugee community as well as "helping the helpers" on the ground through mindfulness and therapeutic writing. She works in communications and mindfulness outreach for Becky’s Bathhouse, a wellness center and safe space serving refugee women in Lesvos, Greece. Find out more about how you can support their work here.

Find out more about Heather and her books at heatherdemetrios.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,711 (36%)
4 stars
1,816 (38%)
3 stars
842 (17%)
2 stars
235 (5%)
1 star
94 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,022 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
June 16, 2017
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.

4 1/2 stars. This book had a really powerful emotional effect on me. I hadn't meant to, but once I'd started, I had to finish it in one sitting, so I found myself wide-eyed and blinking back tears in the early morning hours. This is what I'd hoped The Girl Who Fell would be.

It is such an emotional ride with vivid, evocative writing. Demetrios is fantastic at both introspection - examining the way Grace thinks and how she gradually slips into a toxic relationship - and building a visual of this suffocating suburban California town. Ultimately, she shows how a difficult home life and unsupportive parents can lead a young girl to look for love in all the wrong places, and how abuse is cyclical in nature.
That’s how the worst year of my life starts—in a Mustang with steamed-up windows, with a beautiful boy who cries.

I like that the author writes about poor kids, both in this book and in I'll Meet You There. Middle/upper-middle class kids get a lot of coverage in YA, but the poorer kids less so. Here, Grace lives with her mother and abusive stepfather. Her mother plays the role of "Contrite and Subservient Female" and her stepfather is "The Giant". The severe emotional abuse present in their relationship will serve as a comparison as Grace's relationship makes its own downward spiral.

The thing that Demetrios does better here than Parker did with The Girl Who Fell is that we can easily see the attraction of Gavin. He is both unique to this book and yet he fills a role that is utterly timeless - the tortured bad boy who needs Grace's help to get his life on track. Bad Romance made me understand how a person could need someone enough to ignore the controlling behaviour; how a person could feel responsible for someone else's well-being.

You can feel the suffocating nature of everything throughout - Grace's small town, her life with the parents who make every day torture, and Gavin. The familial relationships are so complex and heartbreaking. I spent most of the novel HATING her mother, and yet there were moments where it was hard not to find sympathy for her. Even Grace's disgusting stepfather is allowed human moments that make him more than a mindless villain.

Still talking about relationships, the triad of amazing female friendship that is Grace, Nat and Lys is just... perfection. They make an odd group with Nat being an "evangelical Christian" and Lys being a "socialist lesbian", but they are the perfect friends and bring some light to this otherwise very dark story.

The narrative is a dramatic second person, past tense. Somehow, it works very well. Grace addresses YOU, as in Gavin, and narrates from a place where the worst has already happened. This is a technique that I find I almost always like. You might assume the inevitably takes something away from the tension, but I think the opposite is true. Even as you fall in love with Gavin alongside Grace, you can feel the change coming. You know disaster is just around the corner and you are powerless to stop it. It's awful and intoxicating.

Such an important and powerful read.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
August 1, 2019
There's a scene in this book that I have never been able to get out of my mind, in which Grace's mother yells at her over a cutting board, and makes her late for school, and Grace just closes down. She just keeps crying and crying. And I think a lot of reviewers might have thought of that as her being whiny but that was me. That was me so many times. Because it's not that one thing, it's everything, piles and piles, shrinking you into nothing but a vehicle for the anger of others.
Each lie is something that's mine, that my mom and The Giant can't take away from me. Each lie reminds me I'm an actual person with rights and desires and the ability to make choices on my own. Each lie is power- control over my life.

This book is incredibly triggering. I'm going to say that first, because it's both the worst and best part of the book. Bad Romance brought back Real Things for me. It was actually incredibly difficult to read some of the scenes because I knew those feelings. It was just... it was a lot, and I don't want to downplay that. But the way this book treats abuse literally means so much to me, and I cannot even explain how deeply I relate to Grace.

Bad Romance is so incredibly real and realistic. I almost wish it hadn't been so realistic, but god, you guys, reading this book was such an emotionally cathartic experience. I cried, like, eight times. But not because it was sad. And I think it will be if you've ever been through abuse, parental or spousal or otherwise. This is a story about getting out.

I guess I'm going to talk now about why this book is one of my favorite representations of abuse of all time.
It's not bad one hundred percent of the time, but if anything good happens, there are always strings attached.

➽I loved that positive girl friendship is what pulls Grace out of her tailspin. Nat and Lys were seriously the greatest characters, both hilarious and kind and funny but also complicated. The support group they formed was so good.

➽Adding on to that, I'm happy the book wasn't about a romance pulling her out and Curing Love. There is a sort-of-positive-future-romance which was sweet, but it was more playing into Grace's character development than anything else. Which is exactly how I think romance should be used in books like these.

➽Okay, I absolutely adored that emotional abuse was given the same weight as physical abuse. Because abuse is not not about the actual physical acts - it's about the fear, the feeling of pain and worry and like only one person in the world loves you but do they? do they really? can anyone? Gavin is physically aggressive, but does not hit Grace - and the relationship is still qualified as abusive.

➽I loved the way Grace's treatment by her parents played into her later relationship. And, um, I loved the portrayal of her mother as both a sympathetic figure and an abusive mother. I loved how nuanced her character was without being forgiven by her daughter. Usually, books either want to make the abuser full-on terrible or full-on redeemable and I hate that trend. Grace's mother isn't a mindless creep. And yet she is still not redeemable or forgivable to Grace - I honestly don't think Grace will ever see her as either - and that is okay. More nuance without forgiving abuse because they had your best interests at hearts, please.

➽Grace's inner monologue. Okay. So this is the thing about this book that I genuinely think is unbeatable. Demetrios' author note is very clear that she experienced something like this, and y'all, it totally shows. It was me and she wasn't the villain and she wasn't the whiny girl who would get put in her place by her well-intentioned parents at the end.

➽I think that more recently, I've been feeling this lack of internal criticism of relationships. You become so grateful to just be tolerated that you'll put up with anything, because hurting is ungrateful, and you blame everyone a little bit, but deep down you sympathize with everyone but yourself. 

I don't know how to end this. There's nothing I can say to sum up how meaningful a read this book was for me.

I think my reaction to this one was a deeply personal one - not everyone is going to love this as deeply as I did, and I think some might even find it too personal. It might end on one of the most hopeful and cathartic notes of any book ever, but it hits really close to home. But, yeah, for me personally, this one was fucking soul destroying in a good way. I love this book.

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
April 24, 2022
First of all, this is one hell of a heavy book, so I want to start off by saying that the book (and this review) come with trigger warnings for abuse (in every possible way: mental, emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, and parental), attempted suicide, and many suicidal thoughts.

With that said, let me be candid: this is the most authentic, honest, and true-to-life portrayal of an abusive relationship that I have ever seen in a book. I have never wished so badly not to relate to a story, but if you changed a few names and faces, you would find a younger me between these pages. And if you, too, can find yourself mirrored here, please proceed with the utmost self-care, because Grace’s story is a tough one to read, but it’s even tougher to remember in your own experiences.

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

Bad Romance’s depiction of abuse is one that many survivors know too well: a relationship that starts off beautifully and carefree. If there are red flags (and let’s be honest—there almost always are), they’re quiet ones, easy enough to ignore or explain away. Have you ever heard the story of the frog in boiling water? If you drop the frog right in, it will jump out immediately—but if you put him in while the water is lukewarm, and slowly up the temperature, the poor thing will never know the danger it’s in until it’s too late and the damage points have started racking up. That’s this story.

I don’t realize now, but this is the moment. The moment when the rest of my life in high school—the rest of my whole life—will change. The moment when I begin to lose a part of myself I’ll have to fight like hell to get back.

What makes Bad Romance unique, besides its pull-no-punches attitude and the authenticity that could come only from the heart of someone who’s been there (and sadly, Heather Demetrios has), is the format that it’s written in. It’s a mixture of first and second persons, and it reads almost like a long letter from Grace to Gavin, set after she has gotten out of the situation. While its time frame makes it hopeful, as you always know that there will be an “after”, the phrasing directed right at her abuser gives it a spurned, angry edge that’s practically tangible. I feel that it’s a brilliant writing decision for the story at hand; while it wouldn’t work for every contemporary novel, it magnifies the impact of this one tenfold.

The sad swims through your veins, dives right into the middle of your chest with no help at all from me.

There’s also a lot of chatter about suicide in this book: before the relationship forms, Gavin has survived one suicide attempt already, and throughout the book, his endless, looming threat to try again acts as a heavy-handed and disgusting manipulation tactic in the relationship. That said, I appreciated that I never felt as though depression or suicidal ideation was being demonized in any way; Heather Demetrios makes it clear that these issues are related to his manipulative and abusive tendencies, not just his depression or anxiety.

Now I look at that girl who adores you, who thinks she’s safe with you, and I want to scream at her to jump out of that car and run like hell. Because you won’t be her happy place for long.

There’s also something to be said for the fact that Grace is living in an abusive home, where she faces constant neglect, harassment, and assault from both her mother and step-father. There’s a lot of psychology to unpack behind the fact that many individuals who miss or overlook the early red flags in abusive relationships do so because terrible behaviors have already been normalized in their lives (hence “generational curses” and cycles of the like). My only complaint is that I do feel like Grace’s mother is let off the hook rather easily near the end of the book, but I feel that it’s important to remember that abuse victims can still abuse others, too, and there’s no excuse or justification for that.

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

There’s a lot more I could tell you about this book, like the ways it made me recognize behaviors in my past relationships that I hadn’t faced yet, or the passages that helped me reevaluate my own past and recognize the healing I’m still working towards. I could tell you that certain aspects of this story paralleled the end of my worst relationship like a perfect mirror, and how much I appreciated the way Heather Demetrios doesn’t shy away from pointing out the problems in some of those coping mechanisms, too. I could tell you that, on a happier note, there’s an underlying current throughout the story of musicals and theatre and plays, and there’s girl-on-girl friendship and loyalty for days.

But honestly, at the end of the day, all I want to tell you is that this book is incredible and cathartic and honest and brutal and bold. And I want to tell you that if you, too, have been in Grace’s shoes, it can be so much better than that. If you need help or healing, please seek it, because you deserve the stars.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Love is Respect: 1-866-331-9474, loveisrespect.org, or text "love is" to 22522

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for elena ❀.
304 reviews3,166 followers
April 3, 2021
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. That's how long it takes me to start falling out of love with you. One year. Our own season of love.

This is a heavy and triggering book, but it can also be so very painfully accurate and realistic. The discomfort you can detect from reading this and the sorrowful experience it gives you as you're reading this makes you feel a shitload of emotions and feelings. You want to throw hands with the so-called lover, you want to yell at the main character, you want to send the parents to hell, but yet, at the same time, you want to feel sympathy and understand the human feelings these people have because, like everyone, they're also human. Bad Romance carries a heavy and important message and it is a book that can vividly open your eyes and make you realize how fucked up the world is even when we don't see it that way. Heather Demetrios took part of her story and made it fictional in a way but at the same time, this story is not only Grace's, it's also Heather's, and I want to praise her for being truthfully real, honest, and open about her story and writing her perspective on the eyes of Grace.

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

Grace wants out of her home and just wants to graduate high school. She wants to accomplish her dream and go to her dream college, pursue her happiness, and overcome the fears she had been living with. Living with a controlling mother and angry step-father won't get her anywhere, and she knows it, but then someone she unexpected to enter her life does what he never thought he would: he enters her life. He enters her life, her mind, her world. He enters the dark places she had never known she had, the places she never wanted to share with anyone. As the two begin to share their feelings, communicate their flaws to each other, and leave others behind for each other, Grace believes this is what the experience of true love is. Only, she didn't know how wrong the feeling was.

Gavin is who Grace thought was perfect: charming, enduring, beautiful, controlling, angry, possessive. She falls in love, in love with how loving he is with her, with how he holds her hand in front of anyone without feeling ashamed. She loves him, loves how he always tells her she's worth his whole life; she loves how she puts him first before everyone else; she loves how he chose her out of every other girl in her school; she loves that she has the bad and beautiful crying boy. But the thing is, Grace didn't know how it wasn't her making her own decisions. It was this boy, the boy she thought loved her and thought she was worth every inch of his body; worth everything he stood for; worth her first and last painful tears.

Bad Romance is about surviving and letting go. It is about what it means like to get through the darkest places of your life, whether it's alone or with the help of others, and returning to the happiest places you had left behind. It is about returning to the light and realizing there is so much more into life than letting yourself be controlled by who you thought loved you.

Trigger/content warnings for abuse in all physical, sexual and psychological ways, slut-shaming, parental abuse, attempted suicide, and suicidal thoughts.

Now I look at that girl who adores you, who thinks she’s safe with you, and I want to scream at her to jump out of that car and run like hell. Because you won’t be her happy place for long.

What started off as a "holy shit" and "WOW!" kind-of-book went a little downhill as the main character began to get annoying, but when do they not!? Heather Demetrios then made up for those ugh's and shouts to the protagonist into a "you tell him!" kind of shout because of the way everything began to be handled. The major theme in this is abuse of all kinds—emotional, verbal, physical, sexual—and they are strong key roles that play into the life of Grace. She's living in a house where she wants to get away from. She's having to live with her stepfather who she refers to as The Giant and has to grow used to the fact that her mother is the person making her late to everything. Grace is struggling in her personal life, her home, and there's no one who can help her except Gavin. That is until she realized he's making everything worse.

I admit, there were times when Grace was getting on my nerves, but her reasons were truly understandable. Gavin was manipulating her and having her think he loves her. He was arrogant but charming, controlling but protective. He was everything Grace wanted and didn't want. You can't blame Grace for her decisions, for the choices she made because of the manipulative experience she went through with Gavin. It is still happening in relationships nowadays where girls think it's okay to let themselves be controlled by their boyfriend because they're so naive and filled with thoughts thinking it's all love. Grace grew out of it though. Her inner-monologue was so strong and felt so real as if reading the story of a real person, and I couldn't stop smiling widely big after she got out of her dark shell and began to shine as she reflected by the sun. Her arc is beautifully developed, beautifully described, and it is an arc that sounds and reads so vividly real.

I think what made her arc so vivid and real was because of the way this book is written. Demetrios decides to write this in first and second person point of view, where I's and you's are given. It's as if Grace was writing their relationship in a letter format to Gavin. Although there are letters in this book, the whole book is read like one. Grace describes herself as someone who was blind and didn't know about the suffering she would later be in. She's in a situation she will never be able to forget and move on from for a while, but it's a situation that is realistic and impacting, positively, for her and the people around her.

Grace was fooled, but you can't hate her for it. You have sympathy and/or empathy for her and you want nothing but to be the friends she had but didn't take notes and advice from. You want to be Lys and Nat and shake her off her dark moments where she was being told what to do and what not to do. You wanted to be the people telling her to "not to that but do this" because you knew what was next.

I live in a kingdom ruled by a tyrant bent on my destruction.

Although the abusers are painted as the villains in this, they are also read as real people, even Gavin. Gavin can be loving to some. Since this story can be extremely personal, touching, triggering, or relatable to many people, Gavin can be the person other's had. People who have been in Grace's situation had a Gavin themselves and probably had a situation like the one Grace couldn't get away from. I think one of the reasons I ended up liking Grace after all was because she later realized it was okay to not be okay and that it was her time to focus on herself, on her accomplishments, on the things she was succeeding at doing. Grace looked back at her past not as a fool but as a survivor, and I really thought that was really strong of her to do.

As previously mentioned, the villains in this can be read as people you feel pity for. We know some of their past, some of their previous actions, the way they lived before they became the person they are. For example, the mother in this is portrayed as someone who does not show mother love to her daughter, but then, there are times when you feel bad for her as well. She's been through something as well, having to let go of things and bring new things into her life she didn't want. Even The Giant, who you want nothing but to send to hell, can be a pitiful character. There were times he was acting like a real adult should act with someone in their youth trying to get advice, but then the angry moments came back flying at Grace and everyone else. The Giant, though, gave some advice to Grace, and I admit, at a point there, thought he was a sympathetic character that was going to be different for some reason. Out of nowhere, I just did. But these moments only last a while, and I think it's important to know that we need to take those small and good moments for granted in our life because they end up disappearing right before our eyes before we know it.

Although not stated, Grace’s mother showed symptoms of OCD. There were many times her mother got anxious during those times. For example, she didn’t see the house clean enough, she couldn’t stand the sight of a couple unorganized things when Grace cleaned the kitchen, she made sure the gate was locked 1, 2 and then 3 times. Even for her mother, I felt bad. I saw more than who she was. She was a mother at times but another time she was the other monster Grace had to live and deal with. Other times, she protected her and defended her. We’re not given her full story, but I was Demetrios made Grace’s mom a survivor of her own.

Somehow, in the past five years, that mom disappeared. Little by little, she floated away, a lead on the breeze.

Demetrios paints the evil side characters as monstrous, people who don't feel anything. But she has their other side of good paint, where they show emotions and feelings as well and even express themselves. Gavin was one of them. If I didn't know Gavin's true colors, he could've been someone I liked in the beginning, but I knew who he was not only because it's given in the blurb, but also because Grace gives it away herself. Truthfully, Gavin reminded me of Ryle from It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover. Gavin has a soft spot for Grace like Ryle had it for Lily, but both later find out those words, that advice, those loving comments, they were all lies that dragged them into their spot so they could mark them. The difference is that Ryle actually hit Lily and Gavin didn't, but Gavin also traumatized Grace. He psychologically abuses her and sexually assaults her, filling her with lies and manipulations and touching her and forcing her into sexual contact with him without her consent and permission.

But right now, a boy is staring at me from the end of the hall and even though he doesn't say a word, he's claimed me.
I'm new territory and you've planted your flag.

As Heather said in her author's note, she was glad her Lys and Nat were her in real life friends who told her what they told Grace: "Break up with him!" The friendship Nat, Alyssa, and Grace was a strong addition and it's important to note that friends who noticed the side and negative features of Gavin since the beginning are the friends who are analytical in the most graceful way, just like Grace's friends did. They kept trying to tell Grace but she wouldn't listen, and Lys and Nat didn't give up, and I think that was what made their friendship stronger. I think they were exactly who Grade needed. The type of friends that don't give up on their best friend because she's being ignorant and not listening, but the type of best friends who will not give up because they know there is so much more and that one day, it will all be over. And in the end, the advice was always worth it. In the end, they were able to help her pull herself out of the dark hole she was falling into.

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 that everything is perfect

Practicing self-care is super important before reading a book you know can be very difficult to read, but sometimes, if you know for sure, books that contain triggers that you know can be personally affectionate, whether in a good way or not, are books that can help you and the rest. They are the kind of books that can help you heal. I guess because of me, personally, it's happened, reading material that can be triggering in a difficult way but at the same time healing. Please don’t take my word for it though. Be cautious and sure first.

I know many people didn't like this book because of the message it failed to deliver or the way the overall plot was handled, but I think Demetrios did a wonderful job. I can't speak for myself as a survivor of abuse or any other traumatic experience, but no one in this world deserves this. No female. No male.

Practice self-love. Practice self-healing.
You don't need to get through it alone.

The first time you hurt me was when you took this secret self and squashed it between your thumb and index finger like a bug. You didn't mean to, but that was how it felt.
Profile Image for TheCrazyWorldOfABookLover.
362 reviews880 followers
December 19, 2017

Let me introduce you to the most emotional book you will read this year.

Bad Romance is one of the most unique-gut wrenching-emotional-OMG I CAN’T PUT THIS DOWN-well written-Am I crying? Yep I’m crying again- books you will read.

Heather’s writing in this is just ... absurd. In the best possible way. If you don’t read YA, she, my friends, is the author that will change your mind.

This is like an incredible mix of Dusty Innocents + It Ends With Us.

Bad Romance starts at the end - told from the heroine Grace’s POV, the story reads like a letter to her boyfriend Gavin as she tells him about her difficult home life, what it was like to meet him, fall for him, and shows him and the reader piece by piece how the end of their destructive relationship comes to be. Her voice is incredibly relatable, surprisingly witty, and her hindsight about what she’s realized and the parallels to her home life are just done so brilliantly.

“A year from now I’ll be screaming Fuck you, FUCK YOU into a pillow because I won’t have the guts to say the words to your face. But right now, a boy is staring at me from the end of the hall and even though he doesn’t say a word, he’s claimed me. I’m new territory and you’ve planted your flag."

I just want to point out I loathe those preachy types of reviews where people talk about the effects a book will have on the world or the importance of the theme it's portraying. I'm just..I’m not one of those reviewers. Read what you want. Take from it what you want. But I will be preachy in this review. Because I honestly think this is one of the most powerful and encouraging books I have ever read. You may not get this if you've never had a Gavin of your own. But that's okay. This is still something everyone should read.

"Maybe the only way you really know you love someone is if they can break you with a single sentence."

I was literally sucked into this story from the very first sentence. I felt like I was living this tale with Grace. I was there when her parents treated her like she was unlovable. I felt what she felt when Gavin came along. When he finally noticed her, swept her off her feet and made her feel like she was worthy of love. When he said those sweet lines that must have made her heart flutter and face smile so bright. Those lines that made MY heart flutter and cheeks hurt. I fell for him right alongside her, and my heart was crushed with hers when it all went downhill. And I think because from the very start we all know how this is going to end, the fall was that much harder. And the emotions this book pulls from you are just that much stronger. I honestly had to stop a few times and just collect myself because of the emotions this was making me feel.

This book is tough. It’s poignant and painful and will resonate and stay with you for a very long time. I am telling you now it’s going to crush you just a little.

This story is told in such a brilliant way that you cannot help but be enraptured from start to end. Simply outstanding and HIGHLY recommended.

Bad Romance is out now! | http://amzn.to/2tKbIlC

Find Me On:
InstagramFB PageFB BlogBlogTwitter
Profile Image for Hulya Kara Yuksel.
933 reviews1,093 followers
August 8, 2017
“A year from now I’ll be screaming Fuck you, FUCK YOU into a pillow because I won’t have the guts to say the words to your face. But right now, a boy is staring at me from the end of the hall and even though he doesn’t say a word, he’s claimed me. I’m new territory and you’ve planted your flag."

This book was so freaking good. I loved it, I hated it. My emotions are all over the places right now but in the end I FUCKING LOVED EVERY WORDS IN THIS BOOK VERY, VERY MUCH!!! I highly recommend it. ;)

And I'm going to tell you a story and this my Bad Romance.

This book brought my some old memories with my ex. And of course it wasn't started all bad in the beginning but when you get over that thin line "that's it, I'm done this fucking dance with you over and over again" So I burned all that bridges because unfortunately after some point, love is not enough when other person always takes away your power and empty your soul with his requests. He was my 1st serious boyfriend and I was a V while we were dating (I was still a V until I married with my husband. Yeah, I'm an old fashion girl! I wanted to wait, so what?) Anyway he always expected me to show him affection in the public like all the time (to hug him/kiss him like we glued each other) or when we sit in the cafe or when we were walking in the street he always tried to stick his tongue into my mouth until I can't breath or he wanted to make out in the cinema or Ohhh my love, I want give your birthday present in the hotel room when I'm all alone with you (because he decided that I'm not comfortable in the public to show him how much I love him!!!... Well, let me tell you something. When someone hugs you like an octopus all the time, eventually you will get uncomfortable in the public... Anyway I said no to him and my answer broke his poor little heart and this was our -The End-) He was like a baby which he needs 24/7 attention from me... Anyway things like that made me into depression and all I was doing talking, talking, talking with him and my god, it made me so fucking sick to my stomach to repeating myself to him. It was so damn exhausting, he took all my life energy. Whenever I explain myself to him, he says he understands me and after that he apologize to me for not to push me again etc but still he always did the same things over and over again. And I tried, tried,tried to save us but when I broke up with him almost after 1 year, I was the happiest girl in this damn earth. After him there will be no more headaches, no more scars on my lips or on my face... So yeah, I did a right thing for saying goodbye to him...

Ps. I'm sharing this personal thing with you because if you're in this kind of relationship, please leave that asshole ASAP! Do not make the same mistakes I did... Please! 👊👊👊

Oh I almost forgot, Gavin fuck you!!!
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
872 reviews3,757 followers
August 18, 2017
Content warnings: (since there are so many, I'm hiding this so you can choose to see them or not, but be warned it's a heavy book that explores awful things.)

I'm going with 5 stars on this based on the personal meaning this book had for me and how much I appreciate it. Though I don't think it's perfect, this story and these characters will stick with me for a very long time and I have not been so impacted by a book maybe ever. Most of the reason for this is because I had my own bad romances and this book eerily reflected many aspects of one of them. It felt like reading about myself at times. If you've had a different type of experience, it may strike all the wrong chords for you. This is certainly only ONE depiction of an abusive relationship and should not be taken as a guidebook for what to expect in every abusive relationship.

My favorite thing about the book was the format. Grace is essentially writing this book as a letter to her abuser after the relationship was over (she does occasionally speak to him as "you" but I did not find this distracting). Because she already knows the relationship was abusive, this allows her to portray their romance as it unfolded and show us how she fell for him, but then take a step back and point out exactly what actions were abusive. I just loved that lens, that we could watch her fall without the book romanticizing anything.

Because of that format, I do think this book would good for readers who have not experienced an abusive relationship. It may help them see which actions are not okay. Things like possessiveness, jealousy, manipulation, which are often romanticized in books and can be very overlooked when you are in love and swooning are always called out here.

And for those who have been in this type of situation, I think there is still room for you to unpack the story yourself. There were times when I was allowed to draw my own conclusions and I could see where a situation might lead without the words actually being on page. So I do think this book is written for both the people who have and have not experienced a bad romance.

Some more things I appreciated:
-Demetrios tells us in her author's note that she wrote at least partially from her own experience. I could really tell she knew the mindset of a young abused girl and I am so thankful she wrote this story. It's easy to see that Grace is making the wrong choices, but equally easy to see exactly WHY she makes them.
-There was no hitting (in the romance). I'm SO glad to see a more nuanced portrayal of abuse that shows it's not all about a partner who beats you. Other physical aggressions like grabbing are shown as just as harmful.
-Sexual assault and manipulation between romantic partners is something explored, which I appreciated shining a light on the fact that many cases of sexual abuse are committed by a partner.
-There was relateable examination of both partners' roles in the relationship. Grace sometimes blames herself, and sometimes blames only Gavin. I did not agree with all of her conclusions about this, but it showed the mindset of a victim well.
-There was a wonderful support group in Grace's friends who helped her realize her relationship was not healthy.
-Pretty decent examination, at least from what I inferred, of how Grace had internalized toxic ideas about romance from the examples her parents set. I usually hate when victims of abuse are portrayed as all having daddy issues, but in this book the use of her parents' relationship as a mirror and foil to hers worked very well.
-Somewhat decent discussion of mental health and the importance of medication and therapy.

Things I thought could use improvement:
-Words like "crazy," "insane," and "psychopath" are thrown around a lot by teenage characters to describe the abusive characters. While these things are said by teenagers who don't know any better, and while MI does certainly play a role in these situations and many real life situations, some readers may or may not see this as villainizing MI. I didn't feel that way, but I can't tell if that's due to my own reasoning outside of what was on page. To me, the characters were developed well enough to avoid stereotypes.
-I would have liked more exploration of Gavin's home life, or involvement from his parents.

Diverse elements:
-Side character Lys is lesbian.
-Side character Nat is Cuban.
-Portrayal of poverty in MC's family.
-Barely seen side character had an unspecified eating disorder.
-Barely seen side character had PTSD and addiction problems.
-Mother is speculated to have had OCD.
-Abuser is speculated to have depression and codependency.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,837 followers
July 22, 2017
So, so, so, so, so. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this book bc
2. However – the book itself sorta dragged.

I know right, my explanation is as good as every other “3-star rated book” which is to say, not very good.

"That’s how the worst year of my life starts—in a Mustang with steamed-up windows, with a beautiful boy who cries."

On one hand, this book portrays the absolute terror that is toxic, abusive relationships in such a realistic way, while on the other hand, it just wasn’t powerful enough to evoke anything deep in me.

And that also could be because the reader is told EXACTLY how this story ends from the very first page.

Which is like, yeah, hella anticlimactic.

Our main character, Grace, writes this book in the format of a letter addressed to her abusive, manipulative ex, retelling the story of their relationship but from her eyes.

The first book that I read by Heather Demetrios, I'll Meet You There absolutely CRUSHED me and I assumed that this book would strike that similar chord. Alas, (or maybe it was a good thing) it did not.

I think the difference with I'll Meet You There was that I found myself relating to the characters more on a personal level rather than just observing them in a scientific manner (which is what happened with this book).

Gavin, the trash bin ex-boyfriend, honestly started off as the perfect guy but develops quite quickly into a manipulative a*shole. I felt like the ENTIRE plot of the story was just Grace and Gavin fighting and making up in record time and while yes, it does show how HARD it is to get out of an abusive relationship, I feel like it just DRAGGED ON excessively.

So yeah, instead of crying my eyes out, I was like, WHEN ARE WE GETTING TO THE GOOD PART?

Did I cry at ALL? Well, yes I did. There were about 4 tears that were shed but that was more for Grace than the situation at hand.


1. TOPIC is so important. Get that self-love y’all
2. Kinda boring tho
3. Friends are the world

"I gave you my heart on a silver fucking platter and you ate it, piece by bloody piece."

That’s all I got.

3.5 stars!!


my soul was just crushed by Our Dark Duet so what better way to overcome my grief by picking up another soul crushing book

genius i know

Buddy read with the kids, kid #1 & kid #2
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,254 followers
August 7, 2017
It’s only later that I’ll see you’re feeding me rehearsed lines and perfectly times smiles and gasps and tears that come at precisely the right moment. A year from now I’ll be screaming Fuck you, FUCK YOU into a pillow because I won’t have the guts to say the words to your face.
But right now, a boy is staring at me from the end of the hall and even though he doesn’t say a word, he’s claimed me.
I’m new territory and you’ve planted your flag.

Such a powerful read! Truly so, so important. This is the story of a toxic relationship told so incredibly well. Grace is looking back on her relationship with Gavin from the very beginning through a letter to him giving the reader an inside look with deep and personal insight into the mind of a girl who finds herself in a relationship with a controlling, manipulative, dangerous guy. The writing style works perfectly here. It's told in second person making it more relatable and even emotional as Grace is looking back in hindsight on things. This creates a tone that feels regretful. I dare you not to feel any emotion while reading this.
I’m the girl who’s desperate to get out of her small town because if she doesn’t she knows she’ll die. She knows her soul will start to rot, like fruit gone bad.

What I enjoyed even more is Grace's toxic home life and how that influences her desire to be loved. Grace's mother got remarried and stopped caring about her kids. All she cares about is keeping her new husband "The Giant" (as Grace refers to him) happy. The Giant is emotionally abusive and expects Grace to wait on him hand and foot. She legit gets torn a new one if she didn't make him a sandwich to pack for his lunch. It's disgusting. And it doesn't help matters that Grace's mother has OCD constantly having Grace clean every aspect of the house. Sometimes she'll refer to her mother as "Contrite and Subservient Female," while giving herself the moniker "Beaten-Down Daughter." It is all very heartbreaking, easily making you feel all types of emotions throughout.

I found Grace's voice so relatable. This only ups the ante on the power the story holds because it makes it feel like this could be you or anyone you know. Starting the story from the beginning works effectively because we can fall in love with Gavin through Grace's eyes even knowing it will all turn poorly. I do appreciate Grace's strong female friendships with Natalie and Alyssa. It's always good to see supportive, healthy friendships between girls.
If I were writing a musical about us, I wouldn’t start where we’re at right now, at the end. I would want the audience to really get how I was able to fall for you hook, line, and sinker. Girls don’t fall in love with manipulative assholes who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices. They fall in love with manipulative assholes (who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices) who they think are knights in shining armor.

The writing is so strong, beautiful and evocative. I felt so many emotions throughout. And could personally relate to certain aspects. I applaud Heather Demetrios for writing a story on such a difficult topic. I hope this gets in the hands of many readers. It could open up very important conversations and hopefully change lives.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,779 followers
September 26, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“I gave you my heart on a silver fucking platter and you ate it, piece by bloody piece.”

Welcome to a review via giffery that is sure to put at least one song on a never-ending loop in your brain for the remainder of the day . . . . .

Bad Romance is the story of Grace and how she almost lost herself over the course of . . . .

It’s a story that shows . . . .

“Girls don’t fall in love with manipulative assholes who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices. They fall in love with manipulative assholes (who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices) who they think are knights in shining armor.”

I wanted to read this as soon as I saw the title. Because duh . . . .

And just look at that cover? I diiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee.

My old lady brain failed me and I didn’t realize that I had had a most excellent experience with Heather Demetrios in the past, so I went into this with high hopes yet low expectations. This is another selection that, although as far as I know is not yet challenged, would be a great candidate during this Banned Books Week since it addresses some seriously heavy subject matter that pearl clutching parents across the country would not want their children to read about. That would be a shame, though, because these are exactly the types of stories that need to be told.

While Grace’s home life and upbringing may have made her easier to manipulate than some, her relationship with Gavin felt pretty fathomable to me. Who wouldn’t want to date the handsome rock star? Why wouldn’t she take his side when he said his ex was cheating – after all, she was always flirting with other dudes. And really isn’t it just respectful to not be touchy-feely with other guys if you are in a committed relationship? Grace agrees that it is. But where do you draw the line? At what point do you realize that you pretty much always do what he wants to do. That if you don’t, he gets mad – or hangs up the phone – or peels out down the street and you end up doing nothing at all because he was your plans for the evening. When do you tell him to cut the shit and quit being such a drama llama? When does it sink in that when he shows up at your window in the middle of the night or spends hours across the food court watching you while you work at the cookie store that . . . .

“Your boyfriend’s creepy.”

Is it about the same time you discover this song isn’t nearly as romantic as you once thought it to be . . . .

At what point do you find the courage and strength within yourself to tell him . . . . .

When he tells you he hates you? When he calls you a whore? When he leaves bruises on you when you’re trying to get away, but he’s not done talking to you yet? When he rapes you? When?

While this may have been just a bit too long for me (I hate making that complaint because I sound like such a dimwit) – it is probably necessary to keep beating some readers over the head with examples of abusive behavior like Demetrios does here. At some point maybe there’s a girl (or a boy) who will recognize that their relationship might be unhealthy too and they will get out of it. And to anyone who feels stuck in a situation like this and has a boy(or girl)friend who threatens to kill themselves should you break up with them? This is what you do . . . . .

Middle fingers up. For real. Then call their parents, tell a school counselor, call the cops, whatever. But get yourself out first.


When you is poor so the $9.99 price tag is making you have a sad, but discover the porny librarian already has you covered . . . . .

Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
903 reviews1,816 followers
January 15, 2018
"I blush, pleasure blooming in my chest. I don't know it now, but there will be a garden inside me soon. And it'll grow thorns."

So Grace has a very troubled and stressful relationship with her mother and her stepfather. They treat her very badly but Grace is counting the days till she graduates from her school and fly away to NYU, New York. But things always didn't happen the way you planned them to be.

Gavin survived a suicide attempt after his girlfriend break up with him. Grace who is head over heels in love with Gavin got scared and wrote a note to Gavin telling him how she likes him and how good he is. And things changed, Gavin start noticing her. they soon start dating and what was a perfect, dreamlike relationship for Grace, soon turned into a poisonous, violent, and suffocating relation.

it is so easy to ask/expect girls to walk away from such toxic relations but this tells you it is not so easy. how that significant one broke you inch by inch, manipulate you, blackmail you, tells you how he loves you and will die without you and you're the sole reason he lives for...

this also gives us insight into the mind of a broken girl who thought she could be the saving angel of that broken and beautiful boy. whenever she tries to walk away he turned himself into a helpless boy, who only needs you to live.

I usually like my romance stories to have a happily ever after but this is something that teaches us that not every crush can turn into "the one", and not every relation can survive with your one sided efforts.
Profile Image for Lucia.
735 reviews815 followers
June 30, 2017
This woman changed my perception of YA contemporary novels and I couldn't wait to read this novel. Fortunately, Mrs. Demetrios did not disappoint.

I really liked writing style and storyline. I loved that as main focus of her book, author picked a topic that is not much present in YA genre - toxic relationship and dating abuse. It is very important topic and I am so grateful that this novel depicted it in very fitting and realistic way.

Mrs. Demetrios sure knows how to write powerful YA contemporaries. She presented deep and super personal insight into the mind of teenage girl who went from I-want-your-babies-because-you-are-perfect kind of first love into being trapped in toxic prison of unhealthy obsessive relationship and then tried to fight her way out of it.

„I gave you my heart on a silver fucking platter and you ate it, piece by bloody piece.“

Mrs. Demetrios made me feel SO MUCH while reading this book and that is a compliment I do not give very often.

Bad Romance is a kind of Young Adult novel that adults can and teenagers should read!
Profile Image for Beverly.
835 reviews313 followers
February 6, 2018
This is a great book for teens and young people who get into sticky relationships with manipulators. As real as it gets, Bad Romance, has such verisimilitude I knew it had to be based on her own experience as the author admits in the afterward. Her friends kept telling her, "Break up with him.", but it's not that easy sometimes.

Personally, I loved the author's descriptions of hanging around with theater kids, which I did in college. My sweet boyfriend was a drama major and those scenes in the book ring so true. There really is a lovely camaraderie there, not felt in any other group. My art major friends were nothing like them. Each of us were separate, and had no feelings of being a tribe united for a purpose. They had their own language even and I was very envious.

I also liked the way the author linked her Mom's situation with her own. Grace yearns to be free from the strict rules, household drudgery, and violence she endures at home, only to make the same little world for herself in her social life.
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,071 followers
January 4, 2019
this book was terrifying not in a horror movie way, but a this-could-happen-to-anybody way, and though it was amazing, it was incredibly triggering so if you read it please be careful!!
Profile Image for Taylor.
436 reviews137 followers
July 25, 2017

"When you're a stupid girl in love, it's almost impossible to see the red flags."

I’m going to be straight with y’all, I have never – in all of my history of reading – related more to a fictional character than I did with the MC of this novel. Grace felt it about Whitman and I feel it about Demetrios: she “gets what it feels like to be me so hard.”

In fact, the musical-loving, NYC-obsessing, 11:11 wishing, Renthead Grace and I could practically be the same person...except for one thing. One glaringly obvious difference between my fictitious BFF and myself: I’ve thankfully never been trapped in a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. And watching how someone I identified with so strongly – someone intelligent, funny, and kindhearted – could enter into, justify, and remain caught in a Bad Romance provided a perspective and an insight I’d formerly never understood.

When you’re raised on Disney, it’s easy to champion the HEA (happily ever after). It’s easy to grow up believing that you’ll quickly find your OTP (one true pairing) and live out the remainder of your days in a castle on the hill. Add in the rom-coms and majority of romance novels we’re fed as teenagers and it’s easy to see why – despite the obstacles or character flaws – we expect that happy ending – no matter what. As we grow older we find out the journey isn’t always so easy and is often sans an Alan Menken arrangement. Boo, hiss.

Bad Romance provides a much-needed voice by pointing out that not every relationship is salvageable or more importantly “the one.” That not every charismatic, arctic-eyed bad boy is “savable.” That sometimes the actions we’re repeatedly presented with as romantic or stemming from a place of concern are actually crazy possessive and stemming from a place of control. That sometimes you simply have to #ChooseYou.

This book gives readers a “lusciously crass” and intimately personal insight into the good, the bad, and the ugly of relationships gone wrong and I can’t recommend it enough! I’m not delving into the plot because I think it’s better to go in blind, but this book opened my eyes to a mentality I never fully understood and had a terrific balance of light vs. dark. Even though it sounds grim, there’s a lot of laughs along the way, an exit strategy, and a confidence-boosting ending that gives you a cathartic charge. Pick this up! Trust me!

P.S. I couldn’t find a way to work these in, but I needed to share some quotes that spoke to me along the way:

“How do boys do that? How do they make your whole body combust just by looking at you?”
"The pages are brittle and yellowing already, stained with the hope that bled through my finders, a new girl in a new town looking for something epic in her life."
"Sometimes you punch walls, doors, anything to break the skin that’s holding in the demons."
”I owe you this...” If you’ve read this book message me so we can talk about this!
"The world, I remind myself, is mine, if only I have the courage to grasp it when the opportunity is given to me."

Original Review:
"G is for Grace." #ChooseYou RTC.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
169 reviews292 followers
August 14, 2017
Girls don’t fall in love with manipulative assholes who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices. They fall in love with manipulative assholes who they *think* are knights in shining armour.

Bad Romance isn’t a fun book to read. It’s disturbing, raw, and unbearably sad. The scenes contained within will remain with you. Lingering like nightmares. Gnawing at the corners of your waking mind. So yes, Bad Romance may not be fun. But it’s definitely necessary.

Desperate to escape her abusive home, Grace is shocked when her longstanding crush finally notices her. The talented and charming Gavin seems like every girl’s dream. Romantic, spontaneous and undeniably HOT. So he attempted suicide when his last girlfriend broke up with him. That’s part of that whole tortured artist thing, right? Despite glaring warning signs, Grace falls headfirst down the relationship rabbit hole. Soon Gavin’s passion and attention devolve into possessiveness, manipulation, and obsession. What do you do when the perfect relationship becomes a nightmare?

Bad Romance is structured as an unflinching stream-of-consciousness narrative in which Grace speaks directly to Gavin. Littered with pop-culture references, in the beginning twee writing stifles the text’s gravity.

“How is he?.....
I can’t tell. Summer said his parents are freaking out. They didn’t want him to come back yet.
“Well, duh,” I say. He tried to….you know.”

A classmate attempts suicide and responses are disturbingly insipid. The inconsistent tone results in characters that seem vapid and a narrative that feels artificial. Like reading a holocaust novel narrated by Lorelai Gilmore. And as a sidenote: by the 15,000th Rent reference I was ready to swear off musical theater permanently. Thankfully, as tension mounts the story self-corrects.

Something in me is dimming, something that I already know I can’t get back.

Grace’s rapidly evolving relationship with Gavin makes sense within the context of her upbringing. A tumultuous, abusive homelife coupled with an absentee father make Grace the perfect victim for Gavin’s manipulation. Starved for attention, Grace initially flourishes under Gavin’s overwhelming adoration. She ignores all harbingers of doom--his quickly shifting emotions, boundary violations, and extreme reaction to normal events--and plows forth anyway, reveling in his cozy family life. Incrementally, Gavin’s behavior worsens and he starts using Grace’s weaknesses against her. Mocking her for “not being deep,” invoking his ex-girlfriend’s name as leverage, and imposing outlandish rules. His emotional manipulation even forces Grace to abandon her dream of attending NYU to remain close to him. And when all else fails, Gavin uses suicide as his ultimate ace in the hole.

While generally raw and chilling, Bad Romance can at times veer toward the cliched and melodramatic. Demetrios trots out well-worn abuse scenarios as Gavin repeatedly utters the trite “I don’t deserve you,” excuse. Luckily Lifetime movie-dom is avoided by the story’s uncompromising honesty and unwillingness to provide pat conclusions. While not without its flaws, this book remains a vital story realistically told and authentically realized.

Profile Image for Gaby.
483 reviews308 followers
December 21, 2016
Y'know when you're reading a TOUGH book? The books about abuse, abortion, pregnancy, cheating, etc. and you can feel your insides twisting and you want to die even though, once you're done, whatever you're reading turns out to be one of the best books you've read all year because it's so rewarding? BAD ROMANCE by Heather Demetrios manages to be one of those TOUGH books (trigger warnings for suicide + emotional and minor physical abuse from significant others and parental figures) that sticks with you and makes you feel the feels but doesn't make your insides cringe so hard you can't read more then 30 pages at a time. In fact, if I didn't have to go to work, I probably would have read this book all in one sitting.

This probably has to do with the fact that, even though BAD ROMANCE manages to sensitively unpack Grace's experience (how trapped she feels, her perceived worthlessness, etc.) and explain how a funny, charismatic girl with close friends and big dreams could end up in such a horrible relationship, Grace is still ultimately a funny, charismatic girl with close friends and big dreams. With theater references packed throughout, incredible, strong female friendships, and peripheral male characters who are kind and are placed strategically to remind the reader that healthy relationships are attainable, Heather Demetrios never lets you feel like this book is a black hole of despair. And that's probably what kept me turning the pages until way past my bedtime.

The other super notable thing about this book is the story structure. First of all, BAD ROMANCE is voicey AF. Second, it starts at the end of the relationship, after it's all over. Grace spends the book speaking to Gavin (the abusive boyfriend) and explaining to him (using second person 'you') how everything went so wrong for her. The book is written almost as a letter to Gavin, a cathartic release that helps Grace move forward, which means hindsight plays a part and that Grace is very aware (and even comments) as she gets to certain points in the story that something is very wrong in the relationship.

Bottom line: BAD ROMANCE is a sensitive, honest, emotional look into one of the worst kinds of relationships that will make you feel the feels, probably teach you something new, but not totally wreck you in the worst way possible. Unless you consider listening to the Rent soundtrack on endless repeat a totally wrecking situation. (I don't.) (My favorite song is still ALL OF THEM. HOW DO YOU PICK A FAVORITE?)
Profile Image for Melissa Stacy.
Author 5 books213 followers
July 6, 2017
Having grown up in a Bad Romance, survived one myself, and subjected myself to other people’s hell, time and again, to rescue battered women from their manipulative, controlling, violent abusers, I expected that I would enjoy reading the YA contemporary novel, “Bad Romance,” by Heather Demetrios.

This book is well-written. Ms. Demetrious has a strong prose style, uses beautiful details to bring a scene to life, and writes with compelling honesty about what an abusive relationship looks like and feels like for a victim.

This book employs a specific "you" in its narration, and while it is technically correct to label "Bad Romance" as a story with a second person point of view, I would still label the narrative style as first person. The protagonist of this novel, a high school junior/senior named Grace, narrates her story in the first person, always addressing herself as “I” to the reader. Grace describes her life and her history in long passages which are often independent of the relationship of the title. This is really a story about Grace and her life, and she is the self-identified "I" of the prose. Grace narrates her story to a “you”—her abusive boyfriend, Gavin. Gavin is always referred to in the prose as “you.” So the reader, by extension, is also the “you” of the story—the abuser Grace must escape. For this reason, the book is labeled as having a second person point of view, but that second person (the employed "you" in the prose) was very much secondary to the "I" of Grace's first person point of view.

I must state that I didn’t appreciate this narrative choice. While I often enjoy books written in first person, I didn’t like being the “you” of Grace’s story, thereby filling the shoes of the abusive boyfriend Grace must break free of. I understand the author chose this narrative style to make me feel more solidarity with Grace, but personally, the style made me wince, every time I saw a “you” on the page and understood the implied complicity between myself—the reader—and Gavin.

Because the truth is, Gavin would never read this novel. The Gavin at the end of “Bad Romance” is too far gone into being a toxic human being to give a sh*t about Grace. Gavin has no respect for himself, and he certainly has no respect for Grace. So who is Grace really addressing as the “you” of her story? The answer is: me, the reader. And this hurt me, as a reader. It pains me that I’m the implied abuser reading my victim’s account of what I have done to her. If the author wanted me to believe Gavin is *the actual recipient* of this tale, then something should’ve been changed in the final chapters, or in the epilogue, to make me believe such a thing possible. Having finished the book, I don’t believe Gavin capable of reading Grace’s story. Not ever, not at all.

And that is one of my biggest problems with “Bad Romance.” This novel is a long, glorious tribute to victimization, without ever addressing the root of victimization, and without ever trying to understand why abusers abuse.

Grace is a toxic character. Long before Grace and Gavin begin their relationship, Grace has a toxic mindset. If readers cannot see how poisoned Grace is long before she starts her relationship with Gavin, I view that as further proof of how toxic our culture really is.

This novel doesn’t ever use the word “feminism.” Nor do the terms “rape culture,” “toxic masculinity,” or “misogyny” make any appearances in this book. The entire novel is a tribute to Grace’s severe victimization, and that is all. The root of why she became such a victim is never identified or explored, and she doesn’t save herself. Grace does not wake herself up or save herself in this story. Her friends tell her what to do, and she finally does it. Her friends save her. Emotionally, psychologically, and by the sheer fact that her friends provide a safe home for Grace to come and live in—for free—Grace’s friends rescue her. Grace never has agency in this book. She is always a victim. And by the end of the book, all she can do is point a finger, and place blame. Not as an equal participant in the toxic relationship that caused her to suffer so much, but on “boys.” As Grace states at the end, “boys are the problems.” (page 326)

“Bad Romance” is a trainwreck. To me, the messaging in this book felt as toxic as Grace.

The biggest misogynist in this story is Grace’s mother, a woman who sacrificed her freedom and dignity to live with a violent abuser Grace calls “the Giant.” Over and over, Grace’s mother sabotages Grace’s mental, emotional, and physical health—even makes Grace miss taking her SATs for her college applications, repeatedly makes her late for work, and heaps upon Grace so many verbal, emotional, and physical punishments, abusing her throughout the entirety of this novel. This adult woman plays the strongest role in giving Grace the toxic mindset of a victim. Grace’s mother does this as the price she herself pays to live with the Giant. Grace’s mother is a completely toxic human being, even more so than Gavin. And this is never addressed in the story. Not once, not ever.

Men are not the only misogynists in the world. Men are not the sole “problems” of abusive relationships. It takes two to tango. It takes two for an abusive relationship. It takes a toxic mindset for anyone to believe they need to “suffer” for love. Grace begins the novel with a toxic mindset, and she ends the book having never addressed the root of her own victimization. She is physically safe, living with her friends, but she is far from “healed”—far from being “emotionally safe” from an abuser.

By the end of this book, Grace is only a victim who is momentarily safe from a single physical abuser. And she is only momentarily safe because she is living with her friends, friends who are physically protecting her, providing a physical barrier with their own house and their bodies to keep her safe from any outside harm.

Why do I refuse to believe Grace has “saved herself” by the end of this book? Because the story made it quite clear how mentally and emotionally sick Grace really is. Because here is Grace, speaking to Grace, in lines that appear on page 282 --

“You stupid fucking idiot girl. I hate you. You’re just staying with him because you’re a coward, a whore who’s too scared to be alone. Fuck you, Grace. Fuck. You.”

As Grace speaks (in her own mental thoughts) to herself in that passage, she “grabs the skin” on the inside of her arm, and pinches it, “hard.” (page 282)

Where did that voice come from, inside of Grace? Why does she self-talk this way?

The book is silent on that. Grace’s self-talk is completely unexamined, unaddressed, and completely unhealed by the end of this novel.

The brutal truth this novel never addresses is that Grace’s abusive self-talk did not come from Gavin. She talked to herself this way before the story even begins, before Gavin even so much as *smiled* at her for the first time.

Gavin isn’t the only “poisonous drug” in Grace’s life. Nor is he the most important poison in this book. Grace’s abusive self-talk is the primary drug. Hating on yourself is a poison, a toxic drug, and an addiction. Hating on yourself is the necessary first drug one must become addicted to before the Gavins of the world step in and take advantage.

Why do women so often engage in such abusive self-talk? This book doesn’t examine any of the roots of victimization, whether in the culture at large, or within the microcosm of culture on display in Grace’s family unit. Grace and her friends are highly intelligent, funny, and perceptive. But no one brings up the words patriarchy, rape culture, toxic masculinity, feminism, self-love or self-worth. No one talks about how women are sent a message, over and over, that men are worth more than women. And no one in the story talks about how this message—concerning a woman’s worth, goodness, or how women are expected to “behave” in the world—is the real root of all Grace’s problems. For as many times as the words “slut,” “whore,” and “bitch” appear in this book, no one addresses how wrong it is that these words even exist, much less that Grace continues to suffer the damage these words cause.

I wish I had loved this book. I spent hours and hours reading it, because it’s a very long novel. Long and belabored. I kept expecting a big payoff by the end. I kept expecting the novel to reward me for being so patient.

But “Bad Romance” had no reward for me. The reader knows at the outset that Grace succeeds in “breaking up with” Gavin—and in case the reader forgets the prose on page one, Grace reminds us, over and over, throughout the novel, that she and Gavin break up.

Grace does not heal herself, or save herself, in this story. Grace is a victim whose friends have temporarily saved her by the end of this book. Grace’s unexamined abusive self-talk remains, so deep and so strong that she doesn’t even acknowledge the poison she’s really addicted to, the negative labels and self-hate Gavin recognized and used to hurt her for so long.

By the end of this book, Grace is a victim who will soon encounter another abuser and become another victim again. I know this because readers like me are the real-life people who keep stepping into the burning houses of these women’s lives, and trying to save them. Like Grace’s friends in “Bad Romance,” I can physically rescue a victim, over and over again. But soon, they’re in another burning house, and then another, and another. Because the real poison is all around these women, all the time. In advertisements, in books, in movies, in bars, in their families, in the current tweet storms of the current President of the United States: the message that women are less, that women have no inherent worth without a man, that women should sacrifice everything if it means keeping a man.

The biggest drug dealer of poison is society at large. We are all victims of it, and we are all complicit in the system as well. It’s a wonder any of us break free at all.

Some people do break free though—women and men. But the message of victimization remains everywhere, all the time, and that poison is hard to counter if you don’t recognize it for what it is.

The single biggest supporter of misogyny in “Bad Romance” is Grace’s mother. At one point, she even slaps Grace repeatedly, so hard that Grace’s head knocks against the wall. Is Grace’s mother a victim, in her own right? Of course. But her husband isn’t the worst drug Grace’s mother is addicted to. The biggest poison Grace’s mother is addicted to is her own self-hate, her own abusive self-talk. A self-hate so strong that she beats her daughter down, over and over again. She even tells her daughter to go back to Gavin, to sacrifice herself to Gavin, after Grace breaks up with Gavin the first time. After Grace’s mother sends her back into a toxic relationship with Gavin, Grace almost commits suicide. Her mother doesn’t care, doesn’t notice, and does nothing to help.

Reading “Bad Romance” was an extremely negative experience for me, a toxic journey that offered no help. Society already places the blame of “staying in an abusive relationship” on women, and repeatedly tells these women they should be “strong enough to get out.” The author states in her Author’s Note that the intended purpose of this book is to tell victims of abusive relationships: “Whoever you are, know that it does get better. You just have to take the leap. You’ve got this.” And she provides an important list of resources on the next page.

I support that message, wholeheartedly. I support anything that helps any victim—whether male or female—to find the help they need to live a happy, mentally healthy life, a life free of abuse.

But I don’t think “Bad Romance” is a responsible book. I feel like the intended audience for this novel would be readers who have never witnessed what being a victim looks like and feels like, and want a didactic, educational illustration of what a victim goes through. Similarly, a lot of female abuse victims are praising this book for giving an authentic portrayal of what they have gone through, and have stated that this book gave them that important sense of “I’m not alone” and “I’m not the only one who has suffered this.”

I’m glad those readers leave this book feeling educated about victimization, or—for surviving victims—leave this book feeling like their suffering wasn’t an isolated event.

For me though, I expected a lot more. I expected the main character to have some agency, and to at least ACKNOWLEDGE the deepest root source of her victimization, even if she couldn’t completely heal herself by the end of the story. Damage takes a long time to repair, and I’d have found Grace’s continued brokenness believable, as long as she had at least recognized her greatest poison.

But this story only existed as a spectacle of suffering. Grace’s suffering is offered up as the experience I’m meant to gawk at, shake my head at, bear witness to, and then cheer for her that she had friends to save her.

Sorry, but no. This story did not work for me. “Bad Romance” insulted and enraged me, and I can’t recommend it to anyone.

If you want to read a spectacle of unexamined suffering, then this book is for you. But please know that “boys” are not “the problem.” Grace’s problem is much, much bigger than “a boy.” This novel isn’t offering up any truth, and this entire story is as blind to “the problem” as Grace is.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews843 followers
July 9, 2017
4.5 stars. I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying. 😭😭😭

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Ignore my rating a little - it's so difficult to rate books like these, because they are so powerful and intense and meaningful. Tough-issue contemporary novels are difficult books to write, difficult books to read, difficult books to rate. That doesn't mean they can't be "bad" and you can't dislike them. In this book's case, it was wonderfully written and so, so heartbreaking, and I can't help but be in awe of the author for writing such a tragic, intense, and hopeful story. This is an excellent contemporary story dealing with an abusive relationship and negligence and cruelty of parents. I usually avoid tough-issue contemporary novels, but I loved this book and I'm so glad I told myself to try it.

The story starts with Grace telling the story from the beginning. She has a horrible home life - her mother and stepfather treat her like a slave, and she constantly has to give up social plans and homework time to do excessive chores and babysit her half-brother. She loves being in school, especially drama/theater class. especially since Gavin Davis is in the class. Gavin's girlfriend breaks up with him, and soon after, he and Grace start to hang out more. Grace has had a crush on him for forever, and she is thrilled with his attention. They fall in love hard and fast, and become inseparable. Even after he graduates from high school (he was a senior and she was a junior), they remain committed, as he goes to a state school nearby. But even from the start, little things start to happen that alarm Grace a little more each time. It takes Grace a year to realize that the relationship is a prison, and she'll need to escape before she, or someone else, gets hurt.

There are two big "issues" in this book - the abusive relationship, of course, and parents' treatment of Grace. I'll comment on the latter. Grace's mother is awful - she has OCD, and she makes Grace clean the house over and over. Grace is late to work, to school, to the SATs, but it doesn't matter to her mother, because all her mother seems to focus on is a tiny smudge, or whether the doors are locked, or if the curling iron was unplugged. Grace's mother is a terrible person, even without the OCD that constantly ruins Grace's life. Grace's stepfather (nicknamed the Giant, by Grace) is even worse. He is verbally abusive to Grace's mother. He starts making Grace pay weekly rent. He threatens to kick her out, and yells when she doesn't do her slave work.

Honestly, reading about this type of home life really makes me appreciate how good my home life was when I was seventeen years old (five years ago! Wow!). Even now, too. I don't have a stepparent (thank goodness. I know many stepparents are wonderful people, and many biological parents are awful, but I'm so grateful for MY parents, for the type of people they are), and I have no idea what I would do if either of my parents got remarried (if they were divorced). It's a situation that a child can't control - and this is so evident, in Grace's case. The Giant is a disgustingly cruel human being. He is verbally abusive (not sexually or physically abusive, thank goodness for that), and he is the type of person that deserves a very bad and lonely life in prison.

Same goes for Grace's mother. And Gavin.

Don't get me wrong, as much as I hated Grace's mother and stepfather, I loved how well Demetrios wrote their characters. My heart broke for Grace every time she interacted with either of them. Demetrious did such a good job of breaking down Grace's home life. It's awful and no child or adult should ever have to live like that.

And then there is the other side of the "tough issues" of this book - the relationship between Gavin and Grace. Gavin isn't an obvious psychotic person - he seems like a hot, charming rocker type who is in a band and also in theater. He's a smooth talker and knows how to manipulate just about anyone - Grace included. You wouldn't know that Gavin is a verbally abusive and manipulative boyfriend, if you weren't his girlfriend.

The jealousy, the possessiveness, the cutting remarks and occasional name-calling, the emotional manipulation - it was heartbreaking and so saddening to read. None of these things were obvious to Grace for much of the book. And even when she started to realize that there was something not right about their relationship, she kept forgiving him, or getting manipulated by him and getting sucked back in. This was so well-written by Demetrios. I wanted to scream at Grace every time she went back to Gavin - but at the same time, I totally understood. You know what I mean?

Demetrios nailed the progression of the bad romance, Gavin's instability, Grace's indecision. This story was so well-paced and well-written, as heartbreaking and intense as it was. I couldn't stop reading even as I wanted to break down and cry for Grace. Grace is so many girls and women in the world today, you know?

The romance is "bad" (obviously) - a harmful type of romance. But Demetrios builds it in such a way that at first, you'll swoon and fall in love too. If there is one that Demetrios always does well, in all of her books, it is a swoony romance. In this case, it's a swoony romance gone wrong. You're probably thinking, "ew Alyssa, why would you say that the romance is swoony?" But that's just it - just like Grace, you'd never know that Gavin is abusive. You'd think that these two are the cutest couple.

I have to say, I a d o r e d the friendship between Grace and her best friends Natalie and Alyssa (yay, fellow Alyssa!). Natalie and Alyssa are so solid, supportive, kickbutt, and awesome. There is no girl drama or catfighting in this book, as many YA books often feature (pitting friends against each other in some way). The girls support Grace even as they warn her away from Gavin and tell her how they feel about him and how he treats Grace. The powerful female friendship in this book makes this book even stronger. I loved seeing this healthy relationship between the three girls, especially given how broken Grace's relationships with so many others were.

You may be wondering, is there another romance in this book? A healthier one? Does Grace find true love with someone else? I'll let you find out when you read the book. This book focuses on Grace and Gavin's romance, and I'll leave it at that.

The ending is very, very uplifting. I was so glad to see Grace stand up with two feet on the ground, and move forward, and never look back. There is a HEA in this book, though the story doesn't lend itself to one. I was a huge fan of the ending.

On a bit of a side note, I'm just going to say it - I loved that religion was a somewhat large part of this story. Natalie is Christian and devotedly so - honestly I feel like she is a carbon copy of me (dresses conservatively, doesn't curse, etc.). YA books tend to not include any mention of religion, which doesn't really bother me, but I liked seeing religion portrayed as a very positive aspect of Natalie's life. And I loved how respectful Grace was, and Alyssa too.

Bad Romance is an intense and heartbreaking story, one that I wouldn't read under usual circumstances. I'm a huge fan of Heather Demetrios's books, so I knew I was going to try this one, even if it was out of my comfort zone. This book is one that makes you think, one that makes you appreciate what you have, one that makes you angry for the women who go through these situations.

What I Did Not Like:

I have no dislikes to state, but for anyone looking for trigger warnings: note that this book has verbal abuse, some physical abuse (by Grace's mom), a very manipulative relationship (Grace and Gavin), and a scene of non-consent between Grace and Gavin.

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book to any girl, any woman, any reader, really. But especially to all the young women out there. Sometimes it's hard to get up and say no, and walk away. I'm sure many of us know a woman who struggled and maybe is still struggling in an abusive and manipulative relationship of some sort. This isn't my usual type of read as I tend to avoid YA contemporary, but I'm glad I read it. There are so many lessons to be learned from the book. The most important, to me, is to love yourself and stand up for yourself.


4.5 stars. This book was an excellent read. I don't know if I have the heart to reread it (hence the 4-star rating - 5 stars, to me, are reserved for new favorites that I want to reread over and over). But this book will have a place in my heart. I loved Demetrios's Dark Caravan Cycle series (Exquisite Captive, Blood Passage, Freedom's Slave), and I'm happy to say that I loved this book too.
Profile Image for Cheska.
58 reviews82 followers
July 22, 2017
“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.”

(trigger warnings for suicide, emotional and physical abuse and depression)

This book was painstakingly beautiful and overwhelming at the same time. It's about a girl who's been living under a roof of an abusive household - her subservient mother and stepfather continuously mistreating her by suppressing her choices and controlling every movement she makes all whilst emotionally abusing her. Because of this, she resorts to finding love recklessly, desperately seeking for any semblance of distraction to take away the pain her own family has inflicted on her. Later on, she realises that while she watches her own mother waste away in the controlling shackles of her stepfather, she's descending into her own version of abuse with her bad boy rockstar boyfriend Gavin as well.

Heather Demetrios tackles a number of issues that most teenagers may experience today and what I honestly think are usually swept under the rug - toxic and manipulative relationships. Not the violent physical abuse that's much more perpetuated in the media nowadays but instead, the agonising, sickening, and guilt-tripping type of emotional abuse that just equally kills a person inside and out until she sees nothing left of herself in her anymore. I think Demetrios dealt with these issues carefully and effectively, with her depicting a realistic situation of an abusive and manipulative relationship in which the abuse itself comes in subtle, but frequent waves. Gavin starts off as a broken guy, needing Grace's help and sympathy, which she happily offers. Initially, you may think their relationship is romantic - two broken souls relying on one another as their own personal lives fall apart. But his unresolved issues with himself cause serious conflict in their relationship, and because of this, he eventually drags Grace down with him.

The writing was so brilliant and poignant, and I think it's mainly because it's told in second-person, where Grace (the MC) addresses you as Gavin and is telling you the story from the beginning. I felt the despair, regret, and pain in every word that Grace says while narrating to me, and I think that's why it affected me so much. Since it was told in past tense like a diary or a letter, everything was told in hindsight, which is why Grace's tone all throughout the book made her seem very angry and regretful, as she already knew very well that things had always been messed up from the beginning.

I was wary of reading this book before because books that deal with these issues can be too heavy and intense, and my sensitive side gets really affected and traumatised easily. However, no matter the harshness of these books, it's important to be aware of people like Gavin. Abuse can take shape in many ways, and I think this book can give a sublime insight on what it can be like to be trapped in a dead end relationship, but also mustering the willpower to choose yourself and your well-being first before anything else.
Profile Image for Heather.
939 reviews271 followers
June 16, 2020
I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it's free
I want your love...

~Lady Gaga

My Beautiful, Tortured Gavin

"Grace. I. Love. You. Got it?"
Your ice-blue eyes are dark with feeling, tears brimming. In this light, you're all charcoal lines and velvet shadows. Something inside me breaks open and the words fall out.
"I love you too." I smile. "I mean, duh."
That's how the worst year of my life starts - in the back of a Mustang with steamed up windows, with a beautiful boy who cries.

Innocent Grace

I loved this book. I fell in love with Gavin right along with Grace. He was easy to love. I think its hard for younger people to know being jealous and possessive isn't love. It doesn't mean "he loves me that much". When you love someone you want them to be their best self. I feel like I'll give this book to my daughter when she falls in love for the first time... Just in case.

For me the saddest moment of the book...


I once had a Gavin. He was just like this one in the book. Beautiful. Perfect. Said everything right. But I felt like being with me made him "sicker". He would have to be touching me at all times. It literally drove me crazy. I couldn't stay with him and be happy with who I needed to become. He had an obsessive love. Now, 25 YEARS later, if I chat with him for a moment on Facebook he'll still mention me being "the one".

Girls don't fall in love with manipulative assholes who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices. They fall in love with manipulative assholes (who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices) who they think are knights in shining armor. You rode in on your fucking white horse, aka 1969 Mustang, and I was all like, My Hero!

Finally, the rest of my pics are because I'm shamelessly infatuated with Francisco Lochowski and he's exactly the Gavin I had in my head while reading Bad Romance.... What do you think?
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
February 22, 2018

Trigger Warnings: emotional cheating, OCD, girl hate, suicide attempts, threats, depression, rape, sexual assault, abuse (emotional)

Bad Romance was an intense read. I had already put this book down once because I wasn’t ready for the triggers in the book. I finally felt ready to jump into this story of how the relationship a girl had dreamed about went wrong. So very wrong. Statistically speaking, many girls and boys will find themselves in relationships similarly to the one in Bad Romance without even realising it. It may be a few of the traits Gavin had or his whole personality. It can all change in a moment, or be something that gradually develops over time.

Bad Romance is a depiction of emotional abuse in a teenage relationship. Grace has dreamed of being with Gavin for years. However, he has been unattainable having been a year older and having a girlfriend. That all changes though with Gavin attempting to commit suicide. Summer is suddenly out of the picture and Grace passes a note to one of Gavin’s friends to pass on to him while he’s in recovery. As soon as he returns to school a week ago he sets his sights on Grace. He wants her and he knows he’s going to get her. What follows is a series of events that show Grace go from a bubbly and happy girl into something much more recluse in order to fit what Gavin wants. Throughout there is also the second narrative of the abuse in Grace’s home life, which really gives the parallel of what her life could be life if she chooses to stay.

The story is told from Grace’s point of view after things with Gavin are called off. She is going through what has happened that led to where she ended up and analysing it. She addresses the book with ‘you’ when talking about or to Gavin. It creates an uncomfortable feeling from the get-go, as you know an impending doom is coming but you’re unsure of how it is going to occur. Honestly, I felt like I was going to throw up several times reading this. Purely because of my past experiences with relationships like this (my sister is currently in one, I was in one and my mum with physical abuse).

I initially gave Bad Romance four stars. I thought it was well done and a pretty accurate description of emotional abuse. However, the more I thought about it the more problems I had with it. I lowered the rating to three stars, something I feel much more comfortable with. I mean, that’s all I can really say, so let’s jump into what I liked and disliked in Bad Romance.



I’ve said this in other sections of this review but the representation of emotional abuse is so well represented. The author mentions at the end of the book that she was in a relationship like this when she was a teenager, so obviously, this is a lot of her own thoughts and feelings from when she was in that relationship. You can tell that this is something she has experienced because of how raw the narrative is. It is honestly so emotion and beautifully depth.

There is such a transition between what is okay in a relationship and what is crossing a line. You’re not in a relationship to be someone’s pretty little doll to sit on their arm and they can fuck whenever they want. You are your own person with your own family and friends.

It isn’t even in the relationship of Gavin and Grace that this is represented. Her mother is in an abusive relationship with her stepfather, which ultimately has Grace being treated like a slave while he screams at her mum and belittles her. I’m speaking from my own experience here, but I can understand why Grace ultimately ended up in the relationship she did. Growing up and witnessing such a mess it’s difficult to think that’s not the normal kind of relationship. It’s honestly just so heartbreaking to read.


This is actually my favourite thing about Bad Romance. Grace pushes away her two best friends because of Gavin. They suddenly get pushed to the sidelines and she no longer needs them now that Gavin is here. She has to spend all her time with him and if she isn’t she’s grounded for sneaking out. Suddenly her friends are forgotten. However, they don’t leave her. Despite the fact they’re now hard-core side characters to the story of Gavin and Grace they wait for their friend and point out his flaws that she doesn’t see. They’re there pushing for her to change while she resists in fear of not having anyone who loves her. Her friends are there the entire book despite all Grace’s stupid actions, they make sure to support her. It was so good to finally see such a supportive network of friends.


I don’t know if anyone noticed but in fiction (whether TV or novels) abusers are so commonly the person from a bad home. The easy target. In Bad Romance this isn’t the case. Gavin is well off, has great parents, and has the whole world about to be delivered to him on a platter. This doesn’t mean he’s a good guy though. Nope. I typically find it’s these kinds of guys one should look out for. They’re the guys who have never been told no, have never had to fight for anything and have too much ego for anyone’s liking. I just really appreciated that Bad Romance didn’t have him from the wrong side of the tracks. It was an interesting change.



I don’t mind that Grace had flaws, not at all. I love a character that is complex and has depth. My problem was that we’re meant to view Gavin as the ultimate bad guy when Grace really isn’t that great of a person. For one, she emotionally cheats on Gavin. Now, I’m not saying Gavin doesn’t deserve this but she quite literally jumps ship to this other guy really quickly. A line from the book is actually ‘I always fall fast’. I just didn’t think it was fair on either guy as she led them both on, ultimately also having the second guys life threatened by Gavin. It was just a mess and I really think we should acknowledge this. Obviously, Gavin is completely in the wrong but the emotional cheating on Grace’s part still gives me an icky feeling in my stomach and I am not on board with this.


My biggest hate in books. It had girl hate. There isn’t much for me to say here, except Grace really feeds into the mentality that guys can’t have girl friends. Not only that but she pretty much slanders Gavin’s ex-girlfriend Summer in the beginning. Which just makes me uncomfortable. She doesn’t understand why someone would want to break up with Gavin, which I guess she very quickly learns.


This is another mediocre point. But, the descriptions of all the outfits were outlandish and 100% something no teenagers wear. Thank you. I’m sick of authors writing clothes that 1. Aren’t cute and 2. Not in style for the time period they’re writing the book.


For a story that had so many fucking loose ends, it really did drag. There are so many points of this book that are just brought up and dropped or simply just not explored despite the fact they seemed as if they’d be important to the plot. This book was also incredibly long for a contemporary. Something, which I see both sides for, as in I see why it was so long but I also think it could have cut 100 pages off and still, delivered the same punch to the audience. There were just so many useless scenes and considering so many scenes were glossed over it just seems they could have done that for a few more.

Overall, Bad Romance isn’t a bad novel. It was just long and had a lot of flaws. Which, I guess is what makes it so successful in representing what it is like to be in an abusive relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship – whether it be physical or emotional – get out please, friends. It’s not worth your life. You can do so many things without a useless partner holding you back. On top of that, you are loved. So loved. Don’t let anyone make you think you aren’t worth anything because you are.

I also want to briefly mention how important the final message is. Throughout Bad Romance Grace constantly has to choose between Gavin and other people. It’s how she really begins to lose herself. The final message of choosing you. Is so important to young boys and girls. In your life, you should always be number one and always be selfish when it comes to yourself.

if you're looking to buy any books over at Book Depository (which I highly recommend for their cheap prices!), feel free to use my affiliate link! I gain a small 5% commission at no extra cost to you.
Profile Image for Geo Marcovici.
1,285 reviews299 followers
May 22, 2020
Translation widget on The blog!!!

Îmi place mult modul în care este scrisă cartea. Tip jurnal, începe cu sfârșitul apoi ne prezintă trecutul și cum a ajuns Grace la despărțirea de Gavin. Autoarea a reușit să transmită emoțiile într-un stil simplu, direct, redate din perspectiva lui Grace.

Bad romance este acel gen de carte care te stoarce emoțional și care îți oferă o lecție de viață gratuită. Depinde doar de tine dacă vrei sau nu să o asimilezi. O carte despre maturizare, curajul de a tăia răul de la rădăcină, de a-ți întinde aripile și a zbura, despre încrederea în sine.
Recenzia mea completă o găsiți aici:
Profile Image for Sabrina.
477 reviews252 followers
February 27, 2018
3.5/5 ⭐️

This book is so real and with a very strong message.
Such a important read about a girl who finds the strength she never thought she had to do what is right for her and for once put herself above anyone else.
The friendship in this book is amazing, I loved how supportive they were of Grace and always wanted what was best for her.
There were a few things that bother me in this book, but I still enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Rachel  (APCB Reviews).
331 reviews1,192 followers
June 7, 2017
This book was so hard to rate. It feels reductive to give this book a rating because "Bad Romance" is about so much more than the stars it receives. It is not merely about a typical toxic relationship, it is about manipulative and abusive relationships and the heartbreaking effects it has on the main character.

I've been a huge fan of Heather Demetrios since I read her beautiful book "I'll Meet You There". I didn't love this book as much as that one, but this book isn't just meant to be enjoyed. It's meant to be heard and understood. This book is meant to teach us. Demetrios writes this book in such a perfect way to truly capture the full impact of this story and the raw emotions attached to every scene. This story is equal parts addictive, devastating, fun, somber, horrifying, and uplifting. There are so many tough scenes in this book. While this book did have its light moments, I would not say this is a light read.

Grace can't wait to move out of her house and get away from California suburbia Birch Grove. She finds her savior from her abusive household through drama student and rocker Gavin. They fall head over heels in love and everything is perfect. Until little by little Gavin reveals who he truly is and Grace starts to lose herself in the relationship.

Grace is a character I really sympathized for. With an unfair upbringing and nearly insurmountable pressure coming at her from all sides, she is desperate for a distraction, a savior. Anything to distract her from the troubles at home. She's compassionate and eloquent and a great leader. She's sweet and hardworking, and I felt for her throughout this book. I also loved the drama elements of this book! She is a huge fan of plays and poetry and literature and I love the scenes that has to do with music and theater.

She also has the best support system ever. I love her friendship with her friends Natalie and Alyssa, and I love that they stuck together throughout the highs and lows of this book. And onto Gavin... What an enigma. I obviously hate his character and his physical and emotional abuse towards Grace, but Demetrios did such a great job portraying him and showing readers how it is possible that Grace could fall for someone like him. It really opened my eyes to the nuances of toxic relationships and just how hard it can be to walk away from someone.

This book will hopefully open up conversations and help people in similar situations as Grace. Demetrios dealt with this subject in such a delicate yet firm manner. It's also doubly heartfelt as this book is loosely based off of Demetrios's own personal experiences. In the end I love the empowering message that Demetrios sends readers off with, and I am forever glad that I gave this book a chance. It has opened my eyes to a subject I never fully understood and has shown me what true strength and grace looks like.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,739 reviews711 followers
June 14, 2017
This is a hard book to rate. It was also a hard book to read.

Grace is an amazingly well written character. Her descent from charismatic and spontaneous to broken and beaten down is subtle and so effective. Gavin is portrayed in such a way that you can understand how and why Grace falls for him. But it was Nat and Lys who steal the show and I love that they were such a positive support system for her.

Plot wise, it was exactly what I was expecting. And I loved the use of second person. It was like Grace was writing a letter and it helped bring a different sort of perspective.

Overall, it was captivating and heartbreaking and hopeful. I was cringing the entire time and yet I couldn't set it down.

FYI: I'm putting it on my rape shelf because there is a creepy scene that stands out. The word rape is never used, but Grace's reaction and thoughts about it made me think about it that way.

**Huge thanks to Henry Holt for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Tomes And Textiles.
283 reviews445 followers
June 12, 2017
Full review can be found on YAWednesdays.com. Below is the Overall review of the book.

Let me be clear. This book will not be your summer beach read. It will be THE read of your summer–a book that resonates and stays with you for a very long time.

This story is a beautifully written personal/fictional account of an abusive relationship Heather experienced in her past. Grace Carter is a girl on a mission–she wants to live the BIG ARTISTIC LIFE in New York or Paris. Heavily involved in the theater program at school, her goal is to study and work in theater in a big city. No matter where she lands, she wants it to be very far from Birch Grove, California. Full of self-doubt, surrounded by the best of friends, she is dedicated to her work as an assistant director for her school’s theater program.

One of her other dreams: Gavin Davis, hot rock star senior in a fedora ( please see Just. Why. Section on the blog for more on the fedora). Artistic and full of swagger, Grace has a long-time unrequited crush on him. He hardly knows she exists until he notices her and it’s anything but the special girl trope from there. I don’t want to ruin anything else for you except to say what follows…well, it made this book impossible to put down. In fact, I read it in one sitting and was at the edge of my seat the entire book.

Poignant and painful, Demetrios tackles topics such as abusive relationships, mental health, poverty, suicide, blended families, self-doubt and friendship. She explores teen sexuality in a very frank and honest way without all the modesty tropes prevalent in YA. Grace is on the brink so many times in this story and is looped back again and again. I’ll add that it’s not just Gavin pulling on her emotional strings, which is what makes the complexity of her relationship with him so much more enthralling to read. You feel almost like a fly on the wall, like you shouldn’t be there, but Heather finds an observation or point to make that makes you feel like you should have been a witness. You know the beginning, middle and end, but it’s the handling of the details that captivates the reader.

I have a feeling that this book will be a book that’s hard to hold on to. It will be bought and shared and traded. There are so many lessons so eloquently written. This will be the book that many abuse victims coming forward will be holding in their hands saying that Heather’s story helped them find the courage. Judging by the Goodreads reviews I’ve read through, many friends in the book community have been in abusive relationships and already shared that reading this book caused them to speak out and acknowledge past abuse in their reviews.

This is not a pretty book, but it is a kernel of hope.
Profile Image for Ali .
663 reviews150 followers
June 26, 2017
This is probably going to get really personal and very emotional for me, please bear with me.

Bad Romance is a book every young girl should read. Bad Romance is a book every mother of a young girl should read. Hell, every mother of a young boy should read it. It should be read as a cautionary tale of what so, so many young couples go through and we should all be aware of the signs.

It would be easy to say that Bad Romance is the story of Grace, a high school student with a hard home life who falls into a destructive relationship and is emotionally abused by her boyfriend. It is that story. But it’s more. It’s also the story of Gavin. An emotionally troubled teen who charms and manipulates his way through life, avoiding the professional care he desperately needs. That part of this story was very hard for me to come to terms with. Here’s why.

This is not a subject I’ve ever easily broached. Especially not publicly. Why? Because 25 years later, I’m still ashamed of the girl I was.

I was Grace.

At sixteen I entered into a relationship with a shy, quirky skater boy. He was beloved by his friends, he had great parents who showed me nothing but adoration and kindness and by all accounts…he was a great guy. He started out as a great guy.

I grew up in a somewhat strict home life, I didn’t have the freedom so many of my friends did. But my parents trusted this guy. Trusted him to take care of me, to look out for me, to care for me and they allowed me more freedom because of it. Which only made me love him more.

As time went on though, the great guy became more and more jealous. Possessive. Controlling. Slowly I lost most of my friends. I was only ‘allowed’ certain ones. I was a drama girl, like Grace, preferring roles behind the scenes. That role eventually dwindled as well because he wasn’t part of that life and why would I want to do an activity, any activity, without him?

My life became another set of rules, only this time they weren’t my parents rules, they were his. If I didn’t comply he became morose, depressed, and would lay on a heavy guilt trip about me not loving him as much as he loved me.

About half way into our relationship I received a phone call from an ex boyfriend. Someone who had played a pivotal role in my life. He called to tell me his little brother had committed suicide. His girlfriend had broken up with him and he was so emotionally unstable over it that he went to her house and shot himself in her front yard.

I should have been there for him. He had just lost his brother in a horrific way and he called me. But, this was someone I was not ‘allowed’ to talk to. I wasn’t there for this person. I was too scared to be there for him. Years later, he forgave me for that. I still have not forgiven myself. I don’t think I ever can.

Things between me and my boyfriend escalated after that. His depression every time we fought, which was a lot, became tainted with talk of suicide. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “I’ll kill myself if you leave me”. It was his trump card. The one sure thing he had to keep me in line. And it worked for another year and a half. It worked through the emotional abuse and manipulation. It worked when that all changed to physical violence. And yet, I stayed. I knew the toll suicide took on loved ones. I wouldn’t be responsible for that. His life was in my hands. You couldn’t convince me it wasn’t.

He even had a way of charming our friends. Every fight was my fault, in their eyes. Even they would guilt me into staying for fear of his self-harm. He was the king of mind games.

Until one day, that guy I wasn’t allowed to talk to called again. Just to check in, as it had been so long since we last talked. While chatting he asked me something that I’ll never forget. “Who the fuck are you?” That question changed my life. This was someone I had not seen in years. Had barely spoken to in years. Yet he knew. He knew my life was wrong.

By this time, I was 19 and had been living in this Hell for three years. I was a husk of a person. I wasn’t Ali. I was just his girlfriend. I was the girl that did what he wanted, listened to only the music he liked, only liked the food he liked, only liked the people he liked.

But I couldn’t let that question go. “Who the fuck are you?”

So I made a plan. I broke up with him on a Friday, over the phone, right before I left work and I ran to a friend’s house for the weekend. She lived a few towns away and he didn’t know where or how to contact her. I called my parents and asked them not to tell him anything. I knew he’d call them, show up at my house, beg them…he did. They had no idea what was happening. I never let on. His abuse was my secret shame.

Leaving him was not easy and his abuse didn’t end after that weekend. There were still phone calls and attempts to see me. And there was still one more attempt at his sure fire ‘suicide’ tactic. I ended up at his house to make sure he was really okay. He was. Of course, he was. I still ended up with a fist to the face for my efforts.

It was over, though. For good. I left. It was so hard and scary but I did it. Not knowing who I was, what my future held anymore…I had given up any dream I had before him.

I hated him for years. Some part of me still does, for the girl he turned me into. I somehow can’t let go of all of that hate, for her sake. However, Bad Romance changed my outlook. Gavin is so much like this guy was and makes you realize that there are so many in the world like that. It’s a disease. He needed help just as much as I did and nobody ever even tried to get that for him. It was never MY responsibility to keep him alive though. That was his job.

I guess I feel a little like I’ve come full circle from reading this book. It’s made me see things about myself that I never wanted to look at. It’s made me see things about him that I never wanted to see. It’s let me forgive myself a little more. All these years later and I didn’t even know I still needed it.

So. Thank you Heather Demetrios for writing a story that needed to be written. For all the people who have been there, are there or are about to be there. I hope it enlightens some readers. Helps them see the signs of abuse, as sometimes it’s very quiet and well hidden. Also, I hope it helps others heal, as it did me.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,022 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.