Aug 21, 2011

Review: But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

Title: But I Love Him
Author: Amanda Grace
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: 5.8.2011
Pages: 245
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Copy: Bought from

Rating: A

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.


  1. Wow, this sounds like a good book. I like the idea of telling the story backwards. I agree that abuse needs to be understood so we can stop it. Thanks for the review on this!

  2. It's a wonderful book. It's written so beautifully that you can't help but be captivated.

  3. I've been meaning to read this one for awhile and haven't, but I think I'm going to at least purchase it so it's that much closer. Just reading part of your review gives me the shivers, but it's so important that topics like these are discussed so that people know that this sort of behavior is not good for them and that they are not alone. If even one person is helped, then it's more than worth it.

  4. This book is sounding more amazing with every review I read. I really really want this now.. the great cover & title helps too. I love the going backwards idea, it sort of reminds me of Stay by Deb Caletti, except in that book there are alternating chapters between present and past. Can't wait to get this book, and wonderful review! :)

  5. I loved this one. I feel like the story was harder hitting after reading it in reverse chronological order. Definitely heartbreaking.


  6. I like the idea of it starting backward and seeing how the relationship got to that breaking point. Domestic abuse is hard to deal with and understand. I can't wait to read this book.

  7. I work as a high school librarian (I'm new to it this year) and this book is one I've heard about but have not read. I know we have it, but kids aren't checking it out. I'll have to read it and then start recommending it to students once I can talk intelligently about it. I've recommended Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr to several girls already. That one is excellent.

  8. Good review! I've been wanting to read this, and i definately will!

  9. This sounds like a great emotional book. I will be adding this to my TBR list.

  10. I really enjoyed this book. I liked how she wrote the story backwards to show how someone could get into a relationship like that.

  11. First off, I want to say that I love your reviews.

    Now, Again, this book was given to me by a friend, and it's been sitting on my shelf. I'll admit, I'm a little hesitant to start these type of books, though I love them after I am finished. I will certainly start this one soon, mostly, I'd only read the synopsis and not a review. It has now moved to the top of my list. :)

  12. 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.
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