Bites

Published May 8th, 2011.

Author website.

Ann was a smiling straight-A student and track star. But after she meets Connor, it all changes. She surrenders everything to be with him, and by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high-wire act. One mistake could trigger Connor’s rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything–and everyone–in its path. (goodreads.com)

At the beginning I was really afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to finish because of Ann’s voice. Just this very submissive, rationalizing, excuse-making person telling this story and that was ALL of the story (meaning no sidebars or alternate lines, just pure domestic violence for 90% of it), I didn’t know if I could take it. Not because it was so hard to read but because it was so infuriating. Weakness angers me and to read about girls and women in this situation really irks me because they just lay down and take it. I don’t understand why. Of course there’s a psychological reason and all of that, personal history and whathaveyou. But how can a person get to such a low point that they equate love with physical and verbal abuse? I can sympathize but I’m nowhere near empathizing. I seriously don’t think I’m capable because it’s a notion that’s so far from my logic center that I can’t comprehend.
And this is coming from someone that has had domestic abuse in her family (an aunt), someone who died from that abuse. I support groups that advocate for abused women and children. But it doesn’t mean I don’t look at it and go “why do you allow this?” I can’t help it. Why do these women see themselves as so worthless?
And you really see it in Ann. And Connor’s mom. It’s a cycle you knew would be there, Connor growing up in a violent home where his father railed on him and his mother, where he protected his mother as opposed to the other way around. This was built as a means of garnering some level of understanding or sympathy for Connor, to show him as something more than just an abuser. He has a history. This may explain why.
Except for me it’s making excuses for him. It’s removing his choice to stop the violence and making him, really, not all that responsible for his actions. I can’t accept that. Throughout the book Connor was so adamant to not be like his father but he fell right into the trap. He didn’t HAVE to hit Ann. He didn’t HAVE to devalue her like he watched his father do to his mother. But he did. After caring for his mother the whole time, he CHOSE to inflict the same pain on Ann. Sorry, but that’s what I believe. Being a wife-beater isn’t a genetic disorder or a heredity disease. While I’m not denying passing on personality traits, flying fists, to me, don’t fit in that realm. Punching is not an involuntary biological reaction. Insulting someone isn’t an involuntary biological reaction. People CHOOSE to do these things.
Ann is a very lonely girl. When her father died her mother basically retreated into herself and shut Ann out. Ann says that her mother had barely acknowledged her in years, no hugs, no I love yous, nothing. That is a terrible way to be raised and it’s really no wonder she fell into the first relationship she came upon with a guy. And she fell hard and fast. Someone that starved for affection? Connor was the perfect sponge for her. Too bad he was a douche. But even with all of that, I still don’t understand why she stayed.
The story is told backwards, according to the information in the back of the book, in order to get a better perspective on the situation. Grace/Hubbard claims that stories like this in chronological order can get people victim-blaming because you get to see the events unfold and you can pick out where the relationship went wrong. When it’s backwards that moment becomes unclear and you can’t really see where it went too wrong. Is there one major moment? No. But Connor’s possessiveness and control issues at the beginning should have been a clue. Except that’s what Ann wanted, to some extent. Connor loves her after a month? Yes! Finally, love! Any love! I’m not saying she asked for any of this but someone that starved for attention probably wouldn’t see what the real deal was until it was far too late. And that was the case with Ann.
It wasn’t a bad story but I have a hard time connecting with these types of tales to begin with, as I said above. They interest me but the overarching story and the voice really need to hit right for it to blow me away. I really wasn’t blown away by BUT I LOVE HIM but it’s definitely an eye-opening book. No one should have to go through this and I hope any woman that reads it takes something away from it. Some little sticky note of a sign that she can reference later. It was difficult to see Ann get beaten over and over again but for me it was even harder to watch her sit there and take it. I still can’t stop asking why. Even though it didn’t strike me as hard as others on a purely personal level, I’d still recommend BUT I LOVE HIM to pretty much anyone. It’s still a good book.


Ban Factor: High – A teen girl gets the snot beat out of her. This topic is far too graphic for banner children.

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