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Girl on the Brink: A Novel Kindle Edition
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This is a well written book in a style that any age can read to understand the signs of abuse and find helpful.
Chloe has an internship at her town's weekly newspaper, and she meets Kieran while out doing an interview for the paper. He's two years older and seems engaging and charming. He sympathizes about her family issues, confessing his own youthful trauma, and they bond quickly. Also, Kieran isn't like other boys who seem to only want sex. He woos her with dates and conversation, shares his grand dreams to become an actor and makes Chloe feel wanted and loved at a time where she's feeling lonely and abandoned by family.
Soon, however, Chloe begins to notice that Kieran is constantly shielding her from her friends, and he's cajoling her into doing what he wants all the time. He's attentive in a way that's becoming problematic--stalking her physically or via phone calls at work. Whenever Chloe attempts to assert herself, or her independence he's right there, convincing her how much he loves her, and how they really fit together emotionally. They are physical with each other, and Chloe believes Kieran's "truth," but it gets difficult to manage his mood swings. He's erratic, and jealous, and gets angry quickly, followed by dramatic apologies and presents.
Each time Chloe recognizes that Kieran's love for her is obsessive, he convinces her to make more and more sacrifices for his wishes. She has so few ties at this point, that his sabotage easily severs her flailing friendships. All along there's been small instances of physical abuse, beginning with intimidation and escalating into pushes, shoves and one harrowing weekend where Kieran essentially keeps Chloe prisoner in her own home.
It's then that Chloe finally reaches out. Her mother's able to be responsive, and act as an advocate, though the problems haven't ended. I liked the story, and felt like it was an important one to tell. Also, it's written in an accessible way, seeing how slowly domestic violence can creep into a relationship. Chloe is a good student, and good kid. Her family is middle class, and her friends are normal. She's an Everyday gal, who can't comprehend the danger she's in until she's literally running for help.
Part and parcel with Chloe's situation is her embarrassment that she could be dating an abuser. She often wonders how she could have been foolish enough to fall for Kieran, but she also misses the way he made her feel cherished and loved. He's two people in her mind: Sweet Kieran and Mean Kieran, which is a common experience for abuse victims. There's a lot of honest self-reflection in the story, and guides the reader to understand the underpinning signs of abuse, and emotional manipulation. Chloe's lucky that she was able to get help when she did, but she makes further (common) mistakes in how she shuts Kieran down. People wonder why women don't report abuse, or why they allow their abusers to return--some of this complicated cycle is very plainly demonstrated in the book, and that's a powerful object lesson for younger readers, in particular.
On an assignment for her newspaper internship the summer before senior year, Chloe meets Kieran. He is attentive and charming and wants to be with Chloe. After her last relationship that went nowhere, Chloe is alll too happy to be with Kieran, but he immediately starts to take over her life. He is with her at all times and she slowly starts losing her friends because she only wants to be with Kieran. It isn’t all roses and dates, though, as Kieran’s possessive side is also full of violence just below the surface waiting for an opportunity to lash out. Relationships are never perfect, but Chloe will soon learn that this one with Kieran is bringing her down a path she will have a hard time leaving.
I wasn’t really sure if Kieran was a bad boyfriend or not. He gets possessive early on. On their special date it’s all about him and his acting and using her to video him to get ready. When she wants him to meet her friends he cleverly manipulates the situations so they don’t meet and she doesn’t see her friends that night. This could be normal or it could be the shallow end of a bad situation. Kieran is the puppy dog lover who follows Chloe around and makes her feel special with all the attention. So what if he’s jealous? So what if he makes her do things she doesn’t at first want to do? They are made for each other like peanut butter and pickles on a sandwich, right?
Anyone who’s been in a bad relationship will see the signs, but innocent Chloe doesn’t know any better. This book was so scarily accurate I had trouble putting it down and going to bed. I was waiting for that climax. I was waiting for something truly dreadful to happen to Chloe. I was waiting to see how far Kieran would go.
The beginning was a bit slow to get to the plot of the story, but the smooth writing style and interesting insight into Chloe’s relationships with those around her will keep you reading until you get to the meat of the story: Kieran.
Much like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Girl on the Brink is a book people NEED to read. Chloe had few relationships herself before Kieran came along and what he did might have appeared normal or justified, but seeing it from the outside the signs are much more clear. This could happen to you. It happens every day. Domestic abuse is NOT okay, either emotionally or physically and both boys and girls need to know what it looks like.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and this is an honest review.
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