Moving on from my self-improvement kick, I’ve come back to my first love – YA fiction. Crush was a fairly quick read for me – partly because I didn’t want to put it down!
The story follows Anna, a fourteen year old girl whose mum has recently left. She lives with her dad and ten year old brother, and is struggling with the strain put on these relationships by her mum’s absence. Her school send her to counselling, but she’s not that into the idea… and then she meets Will, the perfect, gorgeous school heartthrob from two years above. Could he be the answer to her dreams?
I really enjoyed reading this – although ‘enjoyed’ feels like the wrong word when there’s such heavy subject matter. I wasn’t surprised by the way things turned out – the back cover gives away that there’s something up with the dynamic between Will and Anna. However, knowing what was coming didn’t take away my engagement in the story and the characters. In fairness, having worked in education (for young people with high safeguarding needs) for a long time, I’ve been pretty well trained in the signs of an abusive relationship – what makes me really happy is knowing that for a teenage girl reading this who may not have been taught about some of the common red flags, Crush could be a lifesaver. It maybe should carry a trigger warning, or a helpline number – like you get on the end of a particularly difficult episode of Eastenders, for example.
On that note… in case you’ve read Crush and want to find out more or get some advice, Disrespect NoBody is a great resource.
Honestly, though, this kind of education is super important, and Ainsworth has written some pretty believable characters in which to recognise patterns. The nuances aren’t as complex as I might expect from a book aimed at adults, for the purposes of entertainment… but then, archetypes have always served a purpose in art, so I don’t have a problem with that.
I’d definitely be interested to read more by this author.