Wednesday, April 24, 2013


by Jamie McGuire

Published May 26, 2011 by Jamie McGuire as E-Book
Published October 3, 2011 & August 14, 2012 by Atria Books

GENRES: NA / NEW ADULT • Contemporary/Urban • Romance • College Life • Realistic Fiction • Abusive Relationships • Pyschological Issues • Life Issues

WARNING! This is NOT suitable for anyone under 18 unless a parent is reading along. There are violent and abusive relationships, strong language, brutality & sexual content

TECHNICALLY 1.4 ROUNDED to 1 • moral/philosophical/psychological content
TECHNICALLY 3.8 ROUNDED to 4 • general writing, style, emotional pull

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
I had avoided this book because it was surrounded in controversy. The same controversy as that of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Since I never judge a book unless I have read it completely, I grabbed a copy. There were some aspects that left me pleasently satisfied and other aspects that had me holding my head and wondering a few things. Here we go.

As with all books that have a mass following (aka TWILIGHT, FIFTY SHADES, etc) I avoid reading them for a long time. Maybe because I just don't want to be a blind sheep following everyone else mindlessly to their leader.

This book had some great aspects to it. I will admit it. There was some character development. What I really appreciated was the gritty, honest and realistic display of irrational, unhealthy and codependent behavior. The fact that relationships are hard, bumpy and pull-your-hair-out frustrating was well documented. The pacing was well done and the writing style was appropriate. It was so emotionally charged my hair stood up like I had put my finger in an electrical outlet. 

What made me had to spilt my rating into two was this. I found it INCREDIBLY DISTURBING that McGuire would portray staying in an emotionally manipulative, codependent relationship with verbally and physically abusive guy as an OK thing to do. The fact that Abby was trying to start her life over from being abused and used by her father and McGuire had her get that involved to a younger version of her dad was crazy. Not only that, McGuire had Abby picking up her old lifestyle she supposedly was so concerned over... like its no big deal... is crazy. C.R.A.Z.Y.

I get the idea. We all want that passionate, can't-live-without-you-or-I-just-might-die kind of love. But when you apply that to real life, it doesn't turn out the way you expect. Then add the idea of two emotional and dysfunctional people getting into that kind of relationship. This is what you get. Travis told her what to wear. He dragged her away from parties because guys were talking to her. Travis bloodied people almost into a coma in the lunchroom... while everyone looked on... just for saying something about her. He literally destroyed his apartment when he found she had left, and most disturbing... he stalked her, grabbed her and showed extreme violence. And the kicker... McGuire tried to show that Abby could change him. People can NOT change anyone else. It is stupid to think that time old lie that you can make the guy different. That if you just stick with him, the abusive behavior will change. When someone is hurt that bad in life, one person can NOT be the end-all-be-all cure for their heartache. 

Don't take my word for it. Any and all psychologists, sociologists and counselors will say the same. Shakespeare even showed us through his works. What bothers me most is that this mass fandom can only focus on Travis' bad boy image and physique... and thinks it's sexy. Please. Are you that far gone that you can't be disturbed by his behavior? The fact that people think being treated this way is not only OK, but desirable is seriously messed up. I have read peoples' comments about how hot he is, how their ovaries are bursting for him...I my eyes popped out of my head. Seriously?

The fact that throughout the book, people would not only stand around watching but cheer full out attacks on people in the lunch room and leave the bloody guy on the floor made me want to vomit. 

PEOPLE: can we remember COLUMBINE, VA TECH, BOSTON, LONDON, 9/11... just to name a few... reasons why we CAN NOT allow ourselves to become complacent and desensitized to this kind of behavior and rationalization. 

Kara was the only rational character in the whole book and the fact that McGuire wrote the others to treat her like she was a ***ch just proves my point.  The main characters were partying so hard I thought they just might actually die. Fifteen shots in one evening. 15! The amount of alcohol consumed in this book could fill every Olympic sized swimming pool in North America. If you have ever been to a frat party and been the only sober person there, you would completely understand how that kind of drinking is dangerous... in so many ways. And they all look SO completely stupid too. It really isn't funny or fun. Trust me... been there... got the t-shirt. 

The idea that this guy could be a straight-A student without going to class or studying is dense. The idea that this guy gets every single girl even though they know his history is pie-in-the-sky. The idea that he can beat every guy he fights, without getting hit once, without studying the competition, without eating properly and without working out like hell is asinine.

This story had terrific bones. It could have been five stars. EXCEPT that McGuire had to have her HEA. Her Happily Ever After. Abby kept going back to him. Did her past not teach her anything? Did his repetitive brutal and obsessive behavior not clue her in? Maybe she could have written them finally coming back together down the road... say three or five years after he got himself together. But her going back after every "sorry" means she is an enabler. She helps him to keep doing the wrong behavior. This book could have been so much better if she had just left him. You don't get the HEA but you get a real response.

Oh! Here's a big one. They have unprotected sex. No Condom. No Pill. Not even the withdraw method. Goodie. Let's show all the teenagers out there it's OK to have sex like that. You won't catch something. You won't get pregnant. Nah. Can you hear my sarcasm dripping off each syllable?

The fact that Abby's "friends" see this abuse and do nothing is grating. They encourage her to stay with him, saying he's "just like that".. you "have to take the bad with the good"... OMG. NO. YOU DON'T. GET OUT. MOVE. Do what you have to get away. Those people are NOT looking out for you. 

The characters do not think about the consequences of their actions. Some of which were so disturbing I was cringing. McGuire should have fast forwarded a few year or decades so see the horrific and undesirable results of those actions.

Yes, people fight. They yell. They drive off. Show a realistic relationship. But one where the girl stays with the abusive guy is not something we want to pass off as a good thing.

That is why I had such a bizarre rating to this book. There was a good overall story. Her story had a great rawness, gritty nature. But the ideas McGuire portrayed... that its OK to stay in a relationship like they had, to see people being beat to a bloody plup at school and do nothing, to lust after a guy who's a stalker and abuser... and the idea that you can change someone (especially someone so dysfunctional) had me tearing my hair out.

It is controversial. It is powerful. It is destructive. 

The excessive drinking, driving while drunk, driving without helmets and excessive partying was just the icing on this bitter cake about whacked out mindsets. The lack of 99% morals should be a wake up call. The double standards between men and women were blatant and should have been better addressed. I HIGHLY caution readers but admit it makes for great discussion... for adults.

MAMA is getting off her soap box now.

You can find this book at all major book sellers.