Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: absent parents, intense romance, secrets
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss.
Summary: With her parents otherwise occupied with her adoptive brothers, Gannon is used to living pretty much on her own. Despite the support of her coworkers and a friend who really cares, Gannon detaches a lot until she meets Brooks. For the first time in a long time, someone is paying attention to her and wants to be with her. It’s not like her coworkers and friend. He’s fixated on her. Together, they jump straight into an intense, addictive relationship filled with secrets and deceit, as well as the overwhelming need to start fresh.
Christa Desir isn’t the kind of author to beat around the bush. I learned that when I read her haunting and real Fault Line. Almost a year since I first tried out her writing, Fault Line continues to be a book I think about a lot. Needless to say, I was anxious to see what she would have in store for me with Bleed Like Me.
If you are looking for intense and gritty novels out of young adult, I urge you to find Christa’s books. You will absolutely devour them, even as heartbreaking and painful as they are. Bleed Like Me tells us the story of Amelia (called Gannon) who is living with her parents and three adopted brothers. Until her brothers came along, she had been the pride and joy of her household but her brothers have never assimilated well to their home and the attention of her parents has shifted to them exclusively. Gannon gets lost in all the yelling between her parents about how to raise these kids, and all the scheming and disrespectful actions of her brothers. This situation in Gannon’s backstory is a difficult one to fathom; it doesn’t seem like there was a way out. Her mom continues to coddle the boys, the dad detaches himself from their home life, and Gannon is left to observe all of this from a distance.
It’s no surprise that Brooks’s attention intrigues her, except it kind of is because she has a girlfriend who seems to really care for her, and two coworkers who watch her back as well. But I believe years of her parents forgetting her and the breakup of the family she always knew really affected who she attaches herself to. Brooks is direct in an almost creepy way, but she cannot stop thinking about him or stay away from him. She needs him too quickly. He takes possession of her so swiftly, and it makes her feel something, like her cutting; two practices she can’t seem to give up. Desir does not shy away from the graphic cutting scenes either. I was, unfortunately, having lunch when I read the first one and I felt so sick.
In a book like this, readers are prone to realizing the danger the main character is in before she does. You want to warn her. You want to tell someone she knows. But you also know it doesn’t matter what you or someone else says. Gannon is one determined person when it comes to Brooks and time apart makes her dependence on him grow even more solid. Anything she sees in her future spells “Brooks”. Here’s the thing about him, though: as possessive he is, I didn’t think of him as the bad guy. He had his own baggage to deal with. Part of me blamed Gannon’s parents for not paying attention and part of me wanted Gannon to realize her life could not go in this direction and be okay. Obviously, a hurricane of emotions for this reader.
Basically, I sat back and let Desir take me on a ride I knew would come to a screeching halt in some way. This author has the power to suck you into the scariest of situations and keep you interested all the way through. Most importantly, without there having to be a lesson with a big red bow at the end. My biggest takeaway from this book was that sometimes the adults in our lives do not do well by us. When things get bad and they are forced to wake up, they still don’t. It’s up to us to decide what we do next and hopefully part of that conclusion, however shaky the ride is, includes acceptance.