by Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir
- I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review *
CW: BASICALLY EVERYTHING: Sexual abuse, physical abuse, non-consensual sex, psychological abuse, sexual coercion, gaslighting, domestic violence, and more.
Whew. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just tell you clearly: THIS BOOK IS A ROUGH RIDE. IT IS NOT A FUN READ MOST OF THE TIME. Know what your limits are before jumping into this book, ESPECIALLY (I cannot stress this enough) if you have experienced domestic violence or intimate partner abuse.
That said, the style in which it’s written makes it easier to read because most of the chapters are more like vignettes, so you can easily put it down when you tap out (and if you’re like me, you probably will, at least a couple times.)
The cover art is gorgeous, and it’s what initially drew me into the book. The description (Lookin’ at YOU, publisher) downplays the subject matter of the book and that’s not really cool with a book like this. No bait-and-switch.
It’s a hard book to read, whether you’ve experienced a relationship like this (because it takes you back into it) or whether you haven’t (because it’s way too easy to judge if you haven’t survived it.) However hard a read is was, I have to say it’s one of the few books I’ve read that is an accurate depiction of how a person who wants to be loved is vulnerable to this kind of abuser. It shows the slow, gradual escalation of behavior, so when you’re outside looking in — or have hindsight after escaping — you see how violence seems like the inescapable outcome. And this book shows how when you’re inside that relationship, gaslit and isolated, that all the erosions of boundaries seem reasonable.
It reads somewhere between Go Ask Alice, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, and other confessional, diary-like books.
I was glad I finished it, but it’s safe to say I won’t need to revisit it. Five stars for writing a great book about a terrible subject with compassion and honesty.