Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Title: Bleed Like Me
Author: Christa Desir
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: October 7th 2014
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance eGalley of this bookfrom the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers--even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.
Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.
But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks--until he poses the ultimate test.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bleed Like Me is not an easy read. The terrible situation Amelia is in, and the even worse decisions she makes to try to get out of there, are hard to read about, but the book itself is very well-done. Bleed Like Me is a raw, gritty, and somewhat disturbing read, but it's most definitely worth it.

Especially the relationship between Amelia and Brooks is hard to stomach. I disliked Brooks from the beginning - he won't take Amelia's repeated no for an answer and resorts to stalker-ish methods to get her to go out with him, setting off every single warning bell in my brain. And once they're together, it only gets worse - he is ridiculously possessive and controlling, making this a very destructive relationship. Especially the way she lets him cut her, rather than her cutting herself, is disturbing and upsetting to read about. Amelia is entirely dependent on Brooks, which is just as scary. But even though, from where I stand, I could clearly tell that Brooks would only end up hurting her, I still (at least to some extent) understood Amelia's dependency on him, considering how crappy everything else in her life is. Brooks, too, isn't just a villain - even scarier than his actions is the fact that the horrible things he's been through have made him this way. The whole thing is disturbing and difficult to read about, but exceptionally well-written.

The family storyline is unique, and I really enjoyed it. Well, I don't know if enjoy is the right word - more like, scared me out of ever wanting to have kids. Saying that Amelia's three little brothers are difficult would be a gross understatement - they are nothing but trouble. The complex and difficult family relations are intriguing to read about. I just wish we had gotten a bit more insight into the brothers' characters to make them a bit more realistic and multi-dimensional.

The only real issue I had with this book is the ending. I'm all for open endings, and I agree that tying up every storyline nicely in a happy ending would have been unrealistic for this kind of story. But I still wish we had gotten a bit more information about what happens after - the ending is very abrupt and doesn't really allow us to see how Amelia has grown, which I think would have been important to explore in more depth.

Despite the underdeveloped ending, Bleed Like Me is a book I definitely recommend. It's a disturbing story, but it's an important read just as much as it is a difficult one. If you like dark, raw, gritty books, Bleed Like Me is definitely for you. Now I just need to get my hands on a copy of Christa Desir's debut, Fault Lines!


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