I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Crush by Eve Ainsworth
Published by Scholastic on 3rd March 2016
From the author of Seven Days, Crush explores how quickly a teenage relationship can tip over from intense first love into a relationship that is stifling, oppressive and, finally, abusive.
Reeling from her Mum's sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He's handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He's also moody and unpredictable, and seems keen to keep her away from her friends and her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect.
Anna’s a teenager who lives with her Dad and her younger brother Eddie on the Mac Estate. After her Mum left Anna was made to take on the various responsibilities in the flat while her Dad worked to earn the money to feed them. She attends a good school across town, hangs out with her friend Izzy and sings in her friend Dan’s band.
When the school heartthrob Will starts talking to her one day she is shocked. All the girls in school fancy him; he could have his pick, why would he be interested in her? She and Will start going out and he makes her feel special. His constant texts and desire to be with her make her feel wanted. Pretty soon she’s ditching her best friend Izzy and her bandmates to spend as much time with Will as possible.
Her friends don’t seem to like him much but she can’t see why. After all, he’s looking out for her, making sure she eats healthily, getting her safely home. He even encourages her to wear her hair down which she never does. Over time Anna worries that she isn’t making him happy anymore. She makes him angry if she’s late or doesn’t wear her hair the right way. Will has control over her and she’s the last person to realise.
This is such an important book. It’s a novel that tackles the issues of control and toxic love. It’s not a subject I’ve read about in a YA novel before but Eve Ainsworth was absolutely the right person to write this book. She has worked in Child Protection and pastoral care and you can see her experiences influencing this novel.
I guess people think of an idolised ‘young love’. You don’t necessarily think of dysfunctional, abusive relationships between young couples but it exists, far more than one would like to think.
Ainsworth has tackled emotional, challenging issues in this book with care and skill. She looks at a controlling relationship from both perspectives, meaning we get the whole picture.
The majority of this book is written from Anna’s perspective. We see her struggle with her homelife, her life at school, her friendships and her love for Will. We see her blame herself when Will gets angry, believing that she’s in the wrong when he lashes out at her. At times it can be hard to read but it’s an important story that needs to be told.
At the end of most chapters we have a section written by Will. As suggested by his therapist he’s writing down his thoughts and feelings, before promptly burning them. We gradually uncover his background and appreciate why he is the way he is.
I’m sure that I’m not alone in saying that I’ve witnessed many forms of toxic relationship. When it happens to young teenagers though they often don’t realise; they think that’s what every relationship is like. That’s why this book is so important – to raise awareness of an issue that many will suffer during their lives, and to address a younger audience to convey the costs of a toxic relationship.
I really feel that this is a book for all school libraries. It’s a book that young and old alike should read. If you’ve been in a toxic relationship you may find it hard to read but I believe it will make you feel less alone.
Truly a must-read. Thank you Eve Ainsworth for writing this book!