Book Review | Bleed Like Me

Title: Bleed Like Me

Author: Christa Desir

Series: Standalone

Age: YA

Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: October 7th 2014

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Page Numbers: 278

Format: Hardcover

Source: The author

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis: 
From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

My Rating: ★★★★★

Excerpt

“You sure you’re okay?” I asked again as Brooks navigated the streets to my house. His lips looked bluish-purple and he gripped the steering wheel to keep his hands from shaking.
“Yep.” His teeth chattered and I bit my lip.
“Not to be a bitch, but I did warn you the water would be freezing.”
He pulled the car to the side of the road. “Gannon. You’re gonna need to stop doing that.”
“Doing what?”
“Acting like you give a shit.”
I opened and closed my mouth. “I—“
He faced forward and gripped the steering wheel again. “Don’t bother lying. It’s true. You don’t really care. You don’t really know me. You’re just intrigued.”
I shrugged. We sat in silence for too long. “Do you want to tell me about your back?” I’d been thinking about his scars ever since I’d seen him at the river.
“Not really. Do you want to tell me about the cutting?”
“Nope.”
He released a breath. “Okay then.”
I tapped his shoulder and pointed to the end of the street. “I can get out there.” I moved my hand to the door handle, but he batted it away.
“I can drive you to your house,” he said.
I dropped my hands to my lap and eyed the clock. My parents should be asleep, but after the argument from the other night, I couldn’t be sure. What would they think of Brooks?
He stopped two houses away from mine and faced me. “We’re gonna be a thing, you and me.”
“I don’t even know you,” I repeated back to him. The thing was, I wanted to know him. I was intrigued. But it was more than that. Something I didn’t even want to think about.
His fingers traced a line down my cheek. “You will, though. And I’ll know you. We’re gonna be good together.”
“I’m a mess,” I blurted out. Stupid. Too many emotions skated along my skin when I was with him. It was like my shields didn’t work around his Brooks-ness.
His laughter echoed through the car and I blinked back tears. “Oh Gannon.” His rough fingers traced my eyelids, finding unshed tears. “Don’t cry. I like the mess. It makes me look better.”
He leaned forward then and took my cheeks in his hands. His mouth dropped to mine and then he really kissed me. Not a little peck or a rushed kiss like the one in the woods. A real kiss. Lips and teeth and tongue and it was so overwhelming, I almost couldn’t breathe. My hands tugged at his blue hair and I inched toward him, holding myself back from hopping into his lap. He laughed into my mouth and I let go.
He rubbed his thumb over my bottom lip and looked at me hard. “Yeah. We’ll work.”
He sat back into his seat. I moved on autopilot, grabbing my messenger bag and opening the door. The cool night air rushed over me, but I didn’t feel it. Didn’t notice my feet stumbling as I walked toward my house, knowing his eyes were on me without even turning to check. My fingers brushed over my mouth again and again. I slipped the key into the lock of the front door and finally turned back to see he was still parked in the same spot. He lifted his hand and waved at me. I waved back and then slipped into our dark front hall. My legs buckled beneath me.
I wanted to tell someone. Call Ricardo. Text Ali. Wake my mom. But sharing wasn’t my style. So I snuck up to my room and lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling. My hands slid beneath the edge of my shirt and I traced the lines carved into my stomach. And even though I knew better than to believe it, I couldn’t stop the echoing of Brooks’s words in my head: We’re gonna be good together.


Review

Bleed Like Me was like no other novel I've read before. It tore my soul to pieces because it was gruesome, heartbreaking, beautiful and disturbing all in one. Christa Desir did a fabulous job writing this beauty.

The story follows two seventeen years old who feel they are both invisible to the world. There's Amelia Gannon -- she lives at home with her mom, father and her three adoptive brothers. At the age of 12 her parents adopted Alex, Luis and Miguel from Guatemala. She became invisible to her parents and started to harm herself in a way that causes pain -- cutting.

Michael Brooks is a young man who was dealt the wrong hand in life and decided to continuously take the wrong path. He was put in different situations in his home and in juvie that turned him into a miserable young man. He went into a life of drugs and running. He never knew love or happiness.

Brooks meets Gannon and instantly gets smitten by her because she pays attention to him and talks to him. From then on he is determined to have her. In the time he "follows" her Gannon begins to grow feelings for him, but knows that he is dangerous for her. But for her Brooks is her substitute to cutting.

Off the back I knew that Brooks was just no good for Gannon. He was stalking her, always pushing her, and just too possessive in his own way. Gannon deserved way better than him, but having issues at home she fell right into his lap. Their relationship was strange as ever and what pissed me off was that Gannon knew she should not have been with him, but losing herself within him made things worse.

All the events that took place towards the end when they ran away should have been signs to Gannon that something was terribly wrong with Brooks. He was off and constantly doing drugs. He became more demanding and his emotions were like a seesaw. Gannon should have gotten him help but she waited too long, too late.

The ending was a true heartbreaking. I did not expect it to happen the way it did. I didn't think Brooks was so far gone. I definitely cried because it was not beautiful to read, but things happen and it taught me to always find happiness and good in everything that occurs.

If you not good with depression, suicide or self infliction -- do not read this.

Overall -- MARVELOUS piece of work!


Author Q&A

ME: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
CD: Well, first, my agent at the time asked Twitter if someone would write a YA Sid & Nancy and I thought I was probably the right person for that.  And second, I happened to be reading a lot of romance novels when I first conceived of the idea (hazard of the day job) and kept seeing all these stories where messed-up guys and messed-up girls got together and their love made them so much better. And I thought, “Gosh, that never worked that way for me.” So I wanted to tell a more honesty story about how we sometimes need to figure out how to love ourselves and be worthy of that before we can start messing with loving other people. 

ME: Where do you find your inspiration?  
CD: Mostly I meet people in the world and find them interesting and wonder what they were like as teenagers or what would happen if they were in particular scenarios and that’s sort of my jumping off place. I usually start with characters and build from there.

ME: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
CD: I find the business of publishing to be very challenging and when all that noise gets in my head, I think it is hard to write. I miss writing in a vacuum of pure writing and nothing else. Every morning I try to recreate that vacuum by writing for a few hours with no noise or internet or anything else, but I still can’t stop thinking about the business side of things. (For example: will this book be too controversial? Will schools not want to shelve it? Will people hate it because it’s not a happy ending and therefore sales will suffer?)

ME: What are your current projects? 
CD: I have a book about an alcoholic girl boxer that is coming out in January 2016. And I have a collaboration with author Jolene Perry that comes out in May 2016. I’m also working on a long-term pet project that is just for fun and just for me. Which makes me very happy.  

ME: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  
CD: This is a tricky area, because I don’t really write “message” books and if a reader is going in looking for one, they’ll end up disappointed. But, I do like to leave readers with questions about the story I’ve told and in the case of BLEED, I hope that they think about what it means to love and what we do to fill the holes inside of us. 

ME: Does music play any type of role in your writing? 
CD: When I’m walking my dog and trying to figure out something in my plot, I often listen to music and it ends up being really important because I think music can capture really raw emotions in a way that almost no other medium can. With BLEED, I listened to Sia’s “Breathe Me” and Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” a lot. 

ME: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
CD: Everything I write comes from something inside of me, but not in the way that it happened exactly like how I wrote. More the truth is in the emotions experienced, the rawness of loving someone so much you lose yourself, the devastation of losing your first love. That’s sort of universal to a lot of people, I guess.

ME: What books have influenced your life most?
CD: Sylvia Plath’s THE BELL JAR, Joan Didion’s PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, Margaret Atwood’s THE BLIND ASSASSIN, Camus’s THE STRANGER, the complete works of Shakespeare, and there are too many YA titles to list. 

ME: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
CD: Thanks for reading. It means so much to me that you take time out for authors and their books. Keep reading. So much great dialogue starts from the questions asked by books. 

ME: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
CD: Website: www.christadesir.com

ME: Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?
CD: I usually write in the mornings from 5-7am. It’s early but my house is always quiet and I get my best thinking done then and I don’t feel guilty about ignoring my day job.


ME: When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
CD: I usually start with characters and a very vague idea of what their problem is. For example, in my alcoholic girl boxer book, I had a voice in my head of a girl who was really angry and had just gotten out of rehab. The rest of it came out (including her being a boxer) as I started writing. 

ME: When and why did you begin writing?
CD: Well, the long answer to this is: when I was five years old and saw my sister kissing Andy McKee in the bushes and wrote a story about it that my parents later framed. The simpler answer is that I started with an idea that I wanted to write as a screenplay almost 15 years ago now, then about five years ago, I decided to write it as a YA book instead. 

ME: List three books you have recently read and would recommend. 
CD: Carrie Mesrobian’s PERFECTLY GOOD WHITE BOY
Andrew Smiths’ 100 SIDEWAYS MILES
Benjamin Alire Saenz’s ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE

ME: Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do. 
CD: I skate roller derby. I love it, even though I end up really bruised quite often. 

ME: Will you write more about these characters? 
CD: Do you mean a sequel? LOL. No. I couldn’t, for REASONS. 


Author Bio

I’m Christa Desir and I write young adult novels. I am an avid reader and have been in love with YA books ever since reading Judy Blume’s FOREVER (while hiding between the stacks in the library).

My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me.

I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I'm not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life moments.




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