But I Love Him
Amanda Grace's But I Love Him is a very powerful novel about a
high school abusive relationship. It's also a quite unusual one, told
in backward chronology. You start with a year later and end up at the
moment Ann and Connor meet. Grace had a reason for this structure.
She wants readers to not second guess and blame the victim. "By
telling the story in reverse chronological order it removes the
reader's ability to judge the protagonist. They don't know the events
that led up to the abuse, so they can only look back and observe."
At the beginning of the book Ann is alone and hurting in a room
of shattered objects, trashed by Connor in a fit of rage, including a
very special gift it took her months to make for him. She's estranged
from her mother and best friend, very isolated. She wonders how
things could have gone so wrong in just a year.
Then slowly, step-by-step, the past unfolds. The story goes
back through Ann seeing Connor's father abuse his mother, through her
final loss of former best friend, Abby, through her leaving her mother
who wants her to abandon Connor, through a pregnancy false alarm...
The characters are convincing, their interactions believable. A
significant read for young people and professionals who work with them.
On a personal note, I am surprised by how many people have potentially
abusive relationships in their histories. I was engaged before my
first attempt at grad school. My family and friends thought my ex
fiancée was the bee's knees. He was always taking me places, buying
me gifts. I alone saw another side to him. He was jealous and had a
temper. There was never anything physical. But he was suspicious
when I spent time with friends or talked on the phone with family
members. I saw red flags. I told him if things stayed the same for
three months I would be out of his life. He started talking about
buying land on a very isolated lake. I told myself there are better
ways of making the 6:00 news than getting carried out in a body bag.
At the end of three months I chose school over him. This is why books
like But I Love Him are so important. They may save lives by helping
girls and women be able to see red flags like I did.
A great big shout out goes out to all who advocate for and help
victims of domestic violence.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod