Review: Crush by Eve Ainsworth
‘She’ll do anything for me, anything.
Anna is on top of the world when Will, the hottest guy in Year 11, takes an interest in her. She can’t believe her luck and starts spending every minute of every day with him, neglecting best friend Izzy and her band, Void. Will’s feelings for Anna seem to be just as intense, but is that because he’s passionate or is something more sinister at play?
Crush focuses on the insidious nature of abuse, and the way that it can manifest itself in teenage relationships. Will and Anna are happy at the start, but his emotions become too powerful for him to control and he begins lashing out in a covert manner. It starts off small – he tells her he likes her with her hair down, so she takes it down – but it escalates to Will acting aggressive and physically abusive towards Anna, who can’t understand why.
Because of how slowly the abuse seeps into their relationship, the reader experiences the same emotional rollercoaster as Anna. Will seems like such a lovely guy – albeit one with a troubled past, shown through the unaddressed letters that he writes between each of Anna’s chapters – and it’s hard to reconcile his behaviour towards the end of the story with the character that we meet at the start of the novel.
Unfortunately, that’s how abusive relationships often progress, so it’s an authentic yet saddening exploration of this aspect of young people’s lives. It’s definitely a necessary novel: too often YA relationships are nothing but smooth sailing, but that’s the complete opposite of reality to a large number of readers.
However, I have a similar complaint about Crush as I had to Ainsworth’s debut novel, 7 Days. Because Will’s life has been so difficult, it seems as though Ainsworth is accepting of his abusive actions. Yes, it’s important to keep in mind that people have reasons for acting how they do, but when you’re tackling a topic as sensitive as abusive relationships it might be better to remove that from the narrative.
Overall, Crush is a far better novel than 7 Days, and its small size means it’s a quick read. I wasn’t blown away, but I appreciate what Ainsworth was trying to achieve and love the fact that she’s covering topics that aren’t commonly focused upon in YA. I’m looking forward to reading Damage – hopefully before the end of March – to see whether the improvements continue with each release.
If you’re interested in learning more about Crush, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!