Joni Thomas's Reviews > But I Love Him

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
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's review
Aug 17, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: teen, young-adult, contemporary, dating-violence, reviewed
Read in August, 2011

I have read a lot of stories about domestic violence. If I come across a book about it I have to read it. And yet, I have never read one quite like But I Love Him before. At first the style was confusing to me. Not that it made it difficult to follow, just that I felt it was needless. I mean, why write it in reverse? I was afraid that it would start with the first entry which was exactly one year into the relationship with Ann incredibly hurt and upset and then just flash back into the relationship without ever letting us know what happens to Ann. Fortunately that is not the case and while it is written in reverse it does flash to "present day" so to speak so we know how Ann is feeling while she is flashing back to the relationship.

Connor is different from most of the abusers in the books that I have read. I felt for him. He really hated what he was doing to Ann. He desperately wanted to control it. But luck just was not on his side. He grew up seeing his alcoholic father abusing his mother and Connor found himself stepping between his parents to end the abuse on numerous occasions. Even now that he has his own apartment his mother still calls him when his father attacks her. And despite himself he has become as abuser himself.

Ann was raised by her grief-stricken mother after her father died of cancer when Ann was young. She never felt a connection with her mother who never seemed to get over Ann's father's death. She meets Connor and immediately falls in love him. She loses herself in him so quickly and before she knows it she has moved into his apartment with him, quit the track team, and started to ignore her best friend. Connor always told her that he hits objects, not people and she believed him. That is, until he slapped her for the first time. But Ann knows he doesn't mean it. The second Ann starts to cry Connor seems to wake up from his anger and immediately apologizes to Ann. She feels trapped but she can't turn her back on him either.

After finishing this book I read an interview with the author in the back of the book. One of the questions asked was why she chose to write the book in reverse order. She explained it by saying that most books about domestic violence follow such a predictable pattern. The reader can see the abuse before it happens and therefore not understand why the person stays with the abuser. In But I Love Him, Amanda Grace wrote it so you were hurled into the abuse from the first page. You know he abuses her and now you get to see, in reverse order, how it progressed. You can't pinpoint in your head where it started, why it happened, etc. I also feel that in this way, Connor doesn't seem like the bad guy. I actually felt for him. He so obviously didn't want to be an abuser. He mentions getting help on numerous occasions. Usually I am adamantly against the abuser in books on domestic violence but this one was different. There is almost a connection felt with him as well as with Ann.

I flew through this book and I loved every minute of it. It's exquisitely written and I hope to see more novels written like this. I would love to see this book be required reading for high school students. I think it would open the eyes of teens to see an abuser relationship in a new way and possible save some lives.

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