Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
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The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ecopy! Beautiful Disasteris already in stores.
Warning: This book contains language, sex, blood, violence and gambling.
You know, technically, there is very little wrong with this book.
It catches your emotions, it invests you into the characters and it never stops moving. In any other book, this would garner a much higher rating. But there is a problem. Actually, there are a lot of them. Let me list off a few technical things, and then get to the big problem:
#1 Travis is actually an unlikeable character. He needs a life. And depth of any kind. Not acting like he needs bipolar medication.
#2 Abby. UNLIKEABLE. Totally off kilter. Acts like a nice girl and then a bad girl back and forth like a pendulum. Her character has the attempt at depth, but the book is too much of a yoyo for it to be anything but weird.
#3 Supporting characters are also lackluster and fairly disastrous themselves.
#4 Plot twists. Too many of them. Also, too many of them are totally unbelievable and contrived to make the book work.
#5 The language. (Not the kind you think!) Any girl besides America and Abby in this book is referred to as a bimbo, slut, stupid, STD-infected, etc. These two are CLEARLY not angels, but why is EVERY other girl worse than the two girls in crazy, possessive relationships?
But now we get to the real problem…
I cannot justify championing the kind of relationship on display in this book.
Yes, yes, I understand that Abby makes Travis a better person. I understand that together they work out. But the problem is the fairytale they’re perpetrating—something girls shouldn’t be made to believe in.
Travis a violent guy. He is a drunk. HE IS A VIOLENT DRUNK. Even when he is trying to be sweet, he’s beating people up and completely controlling Abby’s life. They aren’t together, but he won’t let her date other guys. He messes up her dates. He completely blows up at her.
This is called a possessive guy, ladies. And not matter how much we want to believe they will change, Abby and Travis’s story isn’t the norm. It’s the exception. It’s the mother of all exceptions.
I have watched friends go through possessive relationships. I have seen how shattered they are when they come out. Right at this moment, I have to live watching a dear, dear friend have her life dictated to her by a boy who says he loves her and only wants what’s best for her.
All throughout this book, my stomach was twisting and churning, bringing forth all these memories. Just the things I watched happen this very evening. As much as I want to believe that this is real life, that every girl can have a happy ending, I just can’t forgive this book for trying to say it’s possible.
I mean, does Abby even get a happy ending? She has this turbulent, violent relationship, almost dies and then she marries the guy at nineteen? On top of everything else. I understand that there have been plenty of marriages that have lasted from that age, but again—they are no longer the norm. I ESPECIALLY don’t want girls in possessive relationships MARRYING the guy just because they think that will bring him inner piece, as happens with Travis.
All and all, I have too many personal opinions that killed this book for me. I have nothing against the author and totally believe the book has the best of intentions, but I can’t get past my own mental blocks. I cannot recommend this book to other girls, for fear of the example it will set. For fear of the message it would send. In the hands of my dear friend, this book would be ammunition, reason to stick it out even longer in the belief that time with tame her guy and eventually he’ll calm down and learn to trust her completely. Maybe she’ll think she has to take gigantic steps to prove it to him.
They say trust isn’t given; it’s earned. But relationships are built on trust—they DO NOT end with it. They grow with it. Possessiveness is NOT an attractive quality, and very rarely—if ever—does it have a happy ending. EVERY SINGLE PERSON deserves better, guy or girl. As someone who can’t stand to watch one more person go through this kind of thing, I’m begging you:
Trust that you deserve to be loved the right way.
Trust that you deserve the right kind of guy—you don’t have to settle.
Trust that you deserve to be trusted.
Please. Don’t wait for the fairytales that might never come. No matter how many books and movies out there that make you want to believe.