Sunday, December 14, 2014

#31DaysofReading Book Review: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir!

Title: Bleed Like Me
Author: Christa Desir
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: October 7th 2014
Source: SimonPulse via PulseIt #31daysofreading

Description via Goodreads:

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

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.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.


This is another book that I'm honestly not quite sure how I feel about, let alone how to rate it. I waited a few days before writing this review to let the book sink in, but I'm still torn. This wasn't a bad book, not by a long shot. But I also had a lot of issues with it. I've decided to level it out at a neutral rating of three stars.

The lead character, Gannon, was somehow simultaneously easy and impossible to relate with. On the one hand, she is one of the "punk/goth" girls, and I was one in high school too. I got the whole hanging out at the skate park, smoking, and chilling at Punkin' Donuts. That's all stuff I've done. I really liked too that this story is set in Chicago. This is where I'm from, and it's always nice to read a familiar setting. This will get a little dark for a moment, but I also related to this character because she is a cutter. While I do not have this issue anymore, it is something that I have done in the past. I will say that out of all the books with cutting characters that I've read, Desir has most accurately described the addiction, the satisfaction, the relief, and honestly, the clean up. You'd be surprised how many books don't mention that cutting involves, you know, blood. It may set a darker tone, but at least it's more descriptive and more accurate. On the other hand, I really didn't like how judgmental she was. She judges her family, her "best friend", said friend's romantic interest, the boy who will eventually become her boyfriend. It all seemed a bit overly unpleasant and harsh. Especially coming from someone from an alternative background- normally the most understanding of them all. I also didn't like how she kept saying how she didn't know anything about him and wouldn't sleep with him because of that and didn't want to be too attached... But then does drugs because of him and waits a month for him because he told her to.

I also found it a bit strange that she constantly complains that her parents ignore her and that she's invisible, lost in the chaos of her brothers. But when she gets serious with Brooks, they just tell her to make smart choices. Her dad comes in to give her a "talk", and gives her a box of condoms. She calls this an awkward nightmare.... But he's finally being caring and giving an effort to be in her life. This point is neither positive or negative to the reading experience, I just found it odd.

Which brings me to Brooks, the love interest. He's another character I both loved and hated. I'm not sure how Desir managed to get me to feel so strongly in opposing directions for her characters. On one hand he's pierced and tattooed with dyed bright hair and that's delicious. He's impulsive and broody and weirdly charming. But his past is dark and quickly that changes, and he becomes paranoid and controlling and not very nice. Their romance starts off quirky and oddly sweet. My favorite part is a bit morbid but, he doesn't want her to cut anymore, but she needs the pain, so he digs his fingers along her healing skin, tearing open old wounds. This is dark and toxic and surely unhealthy... But sweet, in a broken kind of way. They're explosive and dangerous together... But you can't help but want to watch the show.

Another issue I had was Gannon's family. She feels bitter towards most of them, understandably so. They were a happy family of three, until they adopted three boys from Guatemala. Her dad largely hides from his responsibilty because they're terrors. The mom babies them and doesn't want to be the disciplinarian ever because they had enough of a hard life in their home country. She lets them get away with murder- literally. They murder a kitten with absolutely zero consequences. She doesn't deserve to keep them honestly. I don't care if it was my kid, I'd call someone. A psychologist, a doctor, a member of the police force. But no, they have dinner like nothing happened because the mom is just happy they're eating. A week later, they actually go to the movies because they behaved for a week since the kitten incident. Nope. Nope. She says at some point that she can't just give them back. You can, actually, and at this rate they deserve to go a better home. They also leave all three kids with Gannon overnight. They can't handle them as adults- what the hell makes you think a kid can?

That said, I give Desir points for diversity. There were a bunch of different types of people represented here and that's a nice change of pace.

And then there's the ending... It's emotional but disappointing. I wasn't left wondering what happened... I was left wondering why I stuck around to finish it.

I know I've said a lot of negative things about this book.... But still I can't help but focus on the way Desir gets in depth about the gritty realism, the descriptions of cutting and the pressures in their lives. It's well detailed and well written and it's easy to get swept into the intense storm that is their relationship. It's a book that'll stay with me in ways I can't quite comprehend.

I recommend it to mature young adult fans who enjoy a darker side of contemporary romance. Be warned this book contains sex, vulgar language, drugs, alcohol, and self harm. Thanks to Simon Teen/Pulse It for the chance to read it.

1 comment:

  1. This book has me torn on whether or not I want to read it. The synopsis sounds like a book I need to read, but the feedback makes me hesitant. I think it would be a book I'd borrow before deciding on whether or not to get a copy for myself. This is a fantastic review, you do an excellent job of highlighting the good and the bad while remaining politely honest.