‘But I Love Him’ by Amanda Grace tells the story of Ann, an eighteen year old straight A student who loves her boyfriend, Conner, even though he hurts her physically and emotionally. She goes from being an outgoing normal teenager to someone who is empty and constantly on edge. Despite the many times she’s hurt, she still goes back to Conner because she loves him and knows that she has the power to erase his wounds and make him better.
I want to start off by saying despite how this review may sound, I did like the story. It’s a fast-paced engaging novel that compels you to keep reading, even though you know Ann is only going to get herself hurt.
Instead of telling us how Ann ended up like this, Grace goes a different route. Told in reverse order, we first meet Ann as she lies on the floor after Conner’s latest attack on her. Once that’s established, we’re shown what happened during their relationship and finally, at the end, we’re shown how they met.
Was this storytelling technique successful? In some ways it was. I did like the constant stream of flashbacks and noticing the changes in Ann’s behaviour. On the other hand, this didn’t really allow me to fully connect with any of the characters. I suppose one could say that this book was mostly about Ann and her struggles, but there still has to be something there. I thought Grace did a great job showing how empty Ann felt, but we never really see the triggers for this to happen. When did he start acting so angry and controlling, when did he make it clear that she’s not suppose to hang out with any guys, when did start to realize that he was her everything? Things like that were never really shown.
I wish that some of the scenes were fleshed out a bit more. We only got snippets of certain events and never really the whole picture. Especially when Ann starts to realize that this needs to stop and that she needs to get out. I know it sounds bad, but I kept wondering what made this beating worse than the others. Was it because he broke bones instead of just bruising her? True, she did start to think that this relationship wasn’t going to work, but she kept going back to him. Maybe it was because of the sculpture she made that he broke? She seemed more offended by that then her own broken body. I suppose this makes sense, but I just wanted something there, so I could fully understand why this beating was so different from the ones before.
My favourite thing in the novel was Ann’s constant judgments towards Nancy, Conner’s mom. Conner comes from an abusive household and watched his mother get beat up since he was a kid. So when Ann sees how Nancy is towards Conner’s father, she keeps wondering why a grown woman would behave like this. If she’s getting hurt she should leave. I don’t know about you, but I thought the lack of self awareness was perfect. Ann doesn’t realize that whenever she looks at Nancy she’s pretty much seeing herself. She wants to fix Conner and make him whole again and Nancy wants to the same thing. Perhaps the reason why Ann disliked Nancy so much was because she was seeing her future and she didn’t like it. If Ann admitted that this was the case, then it would shatter her illusions about her relationship. It would make her realize that there’s no hope here and that she’s wasted her time. I don’t think she was ready to see that, so she just judged her.
Overall, I liked the book. It has some flaws, but it was a quick read and had me engaged. It’s not the best book that I’ve read about abuse, but it was still good.
Would I recommend it: Yep, definitely give it a try!