Bad Romance. Heather Demetrios. Young adult/Romance. 2017. 368 pages. 4 stars.
I lose another piece of me each time. Soon, there won’t be anything left.
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.
Bad Romance reminded me of Why We Broke Up minus the paraphernalia. It’s funny how Bad Romance encapsulates an abusive relationship visually. You have a wonderful cover that you can’t resist and you think that it’s so pretty, but once you open the book and read its pages you see what a mess it is. It follows the story of Grace who has the biggest crush on Garret and how their relationship went from cute to borderline psychotic.
The writing style of Demetrios is one of a kind. We read Bad Romance as if it’s a letter written by Grace to Garret post-relationship. It addresses the reader as Garret, which can be a reason why it reminded me of Why We Broke Up! Grace is a quirky character who loves musicals. We get so many references to pop culture and it’s not far-fetched to label this book under realistic fiction because the setting and the plot are very real.
We see Grace change from such a happy character to one filled with self-doubt and paranoia to name a few things. Garret becomes the kind of boyfriend that’s scary as hell but also kind of sweet for taking such great lengths to make sure Grace is “safe”? Which is where the subtle abuse comes in. The line between protectiveness and abusive is so blurred and the way Demetrios wrote it let us see it from both perspectives as the girlfriend and the outsider. Grace’s friends were so aware of what’s happening (just like us readers) and would tell her but Grace would not see it–and we can’t blame her! The abuse is disguised in “caring for her” and “loving her so much that it hurts” which is what happens in a lot of relationships.
A nice subplot of this book was the family situation Grace was in. Grace’s mom had a mental illness with an accurate representation which is important. As someone merely reading the book, I was able to feel the pity and frustration Grace had for her mom because her condition not only affected her but her entire family.
Overall, I’d rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars because it portrayed a message that needed to be heard whilst showing us the issues as to why we have trouble addressing it. I’m not giving 5 stars because that kind of rating would mean I loved this story, which I didn’t. I hated Garret. I hated seeing the light from Grace dim firsthand. I hated that it took her 300+ pages to understand that it was not a healthy relationship.