Book reviews & writing tips from a wannabe YA writer
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Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Category: Fiction, Young Adult
Why I Read It: This review at Forever Young Adult put the book on my radar so when I saw it on the library shelf, I snagged it.
Summary: High school senior Nora and her best friend are lab partners in biology, but for some reason their teacher makes a new seating chart with only weeks left in the year. Nora gets stuck with the new guy who she feels simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by.
Review: This book was lucky to get even a 1-star rating from me. The star it did earn is based purely on the writing—which I thought was good for the most part save for some repetitive internal dialogue—and nothing to do with the actual story.
Because I hated the actual story.
Nora’s love interest, Patch, is downright abusive to her, but she keeps coming back for more. It’d be one thing if through the relationship, she learned to assert herself or learned that she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way or learned anything about herself, actually. Nope.
Nora can tell he wants to hurt her, at least emotionally if not also physically. And it seems to make her want Patch all the more.
Maybe I just need to get over it. After all, it’s just a story. A bit of candy in book form. At least it gets kids to turn off the TV and read.
But…is it “just a story”? Here’s a quick snippet from a book called Influencer, which looks at behavioral science research to determine what motivates people to change their behavior.
Entertainment education helps people change how they view the world through the telling of vibrant and credible stories. Told well, these vicariously created events approximate the gold standard of change—real experiences… We can use words to persuade others to come around to our way of thinking by telling a story rather than firing of a lecture… A well-told narrative…changes people’s view of how the world works because it presents a plausible, touching, and memorable flow of cause and effect that can alter people’s view of the consequences of various actions or beliefs.
Meaning? Stories matter. Lectures from parents and teachers, not so much. Stories—and the messages they carry—break through where nagging doesn’t and make a real impact.
The impact books like this and Twilight will make—are making—scares me. Not because I imagine girls will finish the book, set it down, and think to themselves “Golly gee, I’d sure like to find me an emotionally abusive boy.” The problem is they won’t think about it. They’ll get caught up in the story, which will leave an imprint on their sensibilities.
I wish this were just an irrational fear of mine. Unfortunately, research has proven this is exactly what happens. Again, from Influencer:
Concrete and vivid stories exert extraordinary influence because they transport people out of the role of critic and into the role of participant. The more poignant, vibrant, and relevant the story, the more the listener moves from thinking about the inherent arguments to experiencing every element of the tale itself. Stories don’t merely trump verbal persuasion by disproving counterarguments; stories keep the listener from offering counterarguments in the first place.
So why did this book get my dander up? Because this is the message it mainlines to girls: A boy who abuses you is hot. The reason he abuses you is he truly loves you. If you put up with the abuse long enough, he’ll prove his love to you and it will all be worth it.
Finally, a quick sidebar: I have been working on this review since I finished the book a couple months ago, but a few recent posts on this same topic gave me the courage to say how I really felt about this book. Thank you to those bloggers for speaking up.
Your Turn: Which came first—the books that equate stalking with hotness, or the girls who want to read them?
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