Saturday, 1 February 2020

The Places I've Cried in Public by Holly Bourne, reviewed by Dawn Finch

First the blurb...
Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry. Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

Note - Trigger warnings in this book for abusive relationships and mental health issues

Amelie thought she was in love. Well, it certainly seemed like love and she imagined a future that was all about Reese and their life together, but what did she mean to him? She genuinely thought he loved her right back but is real love meant to hurt this badly? Does real love have so many tears, and so many places marked by crying? Amelie retraces the steps of her relationship with Reese to try to understand how she ended up here, and in doing so sees things with clarity for the first time.

As an adult reader, this book is full of all the terrible warning signs of an abusive relationship, but seeing this is perhaps something that comes to us with age. Amelie doesn't know what Reese is doing to her and doesn't have the tools to see the warning signs. Like many girls (and women) her love blinds her to the obvious. It's only when she gets help, therapy, and distance from the abusive relationship that she can begin to see the harm that has been done to her.

This is an incredibly powerful book about the subtle slide from devotion to obsession and from adoration to abuse. It is at times a traumatic read, but also one of gentle humour, sensitivity and caring. It's not a book that preaches, despite it delivering some very powerful life lessons. I wanted to be able to rescue Amelie. I wanted to sweep her away from her situation, and hug her, and give her a good talking to, and keep her safe. I think we have all had friends that we want to rescue, and have at times, maybe, needed rescuing ourselves. My hope is that if all young women have access to books like this, maybe they’ll be better placed to rescue themselves and others.

The Places I've Cried in Public by Holly Bourne is published by Usborne Books.

Reviewed by Dawn Finch, author and librarian.

Usborne have a link to some resources that might be useful if referring to this book in a school setting.



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