Title: But I Love Him
Author: Amanda Grace
Publication Date: 5.8.2011
Copy: Bought from Amazon.com
Summary (from Goodreads):
At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved — and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything — and everyone — in its path.
This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong.
For such a small book, this one packs one heck of a punch. I was a bit disappointed to see how thin this book was, but the more I read, the more I appreciated its brevity. This wasn’t a story that needed all the gory details drug out across several chapters. The way Amanda Grace (or Mandy Hubbard) tells this story is breathtaking and spellbinding.
In case you aren’t aware, this story is told backwards, with only a few brief interludes into the present time. It begins in the present with Ann laying amongst broken glass and her own smashed psyche. Instead of building up to the moment everything goes to hell, Grace instead walks us back through the steps of the relationship. It’s an ingenious way to keep the reader from forming any assumptions and conclusions. It’s so easy to go into a novel like this already villainizing the abuser.
I’ve read other domestic abuse stories that didn’t feel nearly as visceral as this one did. Grace does a phenomenal job of portraying the abuser, Connor. Few authors I feel dig deep enough to try and understand why someone turns to abuse. I especially loved that even while Connor grew up with abuse, he hated it. And yet, he seemed almost powerless to break the cycle. It’s such a damning trap that toy many people fall into. Every time Connor lashed out at Ann, he was repentant, usually almost immediately. I was honestly confused: Was Connor genuinely sorry? Or was he simply manipulating Ann to coerce her into staying? I think that’s the point—abuse isn’t black and white. While it’s wrong all the way around, there are other variables at play. Connor was just as broken and messed up as Ann.
Books like these are a rarity. They need to be read and passed along, especially to the younger generation. I would have no problem handing this book to my 13 or 14 year old cousin to read. Yes, this book has some adult subject matter, but it’s imperative that kids start understanding and recognizing the signs of abuse. Not only is this a powerful story, but it’s informative. I could easily see this book becoming required reading in high schools and/or middle schools in a few years.