9/27/14

The Things You Kiss Goodbye

Author: Leslie Connor 
Pages: 368 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.



My Summary: Bettina has grown up in a strict Greek household where her father's word is law and nothing is permitted unless he says it is. Forced to give up dance and with no friends in sight, Bettina turns to her art and Brady Cullen - a boy who seems like everything she's ever wanted and more.

But a few months into the relationship, Bettina begins to notice a change. Gone is the sweet, gentle boy she fell in love with, and in his place is an impatient and abusive boy whose idea of a joke is pulling too hard on his girlfriend's braid. Caught between breaking up with Brady and sacrificing her freedom, Bettina decides to ignore his insults, jabs, and the pain. 

She finds a safe haven: a classic car restoration shop. The owner - known only to her as Cowboy - is everything Brady isn't, and Bettina quickly realizes that love doesn't have to hurt. 

My Thoughts:I seriously did not expect this novel to as dark as it did. 

When I began reading, I figured that it would be a sweet novel about struggling against strict parents in order to become yourself. I had no idea where the story was headed, but I'm very glad that I picked it up when I did. 

Bettina was a very likable character, and extremely easy to relate to. I cringed every time she mentioned her boyfriend's abusive behaviour, and reading her thoughts on the abuse she was suffering was tough. I liked that the author didn't set Brady up as this horrible, villain-like entity, choosing instead to show him as a multi-faceted character. I felt like it really helped the reader understand the ways that people can enter into abusive relationships without knowing what's in store, and the reasons that some people might have for not leaving right when the abuse begins. Leslie Connor did a great job addressing the many forms of abuse (emotional and physical, romantic and familial). 

She also did a great job of ripping my heart out and stomping on it, but that's the price you pay when you pick up a great novel. 

The writing was engaging and easy to get into. I flew through this novel in a little over three hours, refusing to stop until I found out how Bettina's story ended. It was worth every minute.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys edgier contemporary literature. 

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