I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 7, 2014
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.
This book contains a storyline that involves self-harm.
The first thing you should know about Bleed Like Me is that it is a love story. The second thing you should know is that calling it a love story doesn’t mean it won’t also be very disturbing. Gannon’s family situation is consumed by the three boys her parents adopted a few years ago. She is able to hide her unhappiness, her loneliness, and her cutting within the chaos of her home life. The author does an excellent job of letting you see Gannon’s isolation, so when she meets Brooks it makes perfect sense for her start a relationship with someone who seems to care about her. The romance, and Gannon’s character, was written in such a way that while her decisions made me cringe, I understood them. Here was someone who noticed Gannon’s cutting and asked her to stop. Here was someone who seemed to care where she went and what she was doing, and there is a seductive power to caring, even when it starts to morph into being controlling and manipulative. That concern and involvement turned into something deeply destructive. Instead of cutting, the relationship with Brooks became the outlet for her pain and, eventually, the reason for it.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews painting this book as one boy’s destruction of a girl who just needed a little attention, but that really wasn’t how I saw it at all. Bleed Like Me is not about one disturbed teen girl and her “bad” boyfriend who wraps her in a spell, it is about two deeply disturbed teens who cling to each other, consume each other, with disastrous results. There is no savior in this relationship and there is no fixing. The depth of the pain that Brooks has If you are looking for Gannon to learn some big lesson by the last page, this isn’t the book for you. In fact, had it gone that direction, it would have done a great disservice to a story that was one of the most raw that I’ve read in a long, long time. Bleed Like Me is not for the faint of heart, to be sure, but its dark and unflinching story grabbed a hold of me and I found that I could not look away.