And here’s another brilliant guest post, this time by our devoted fan Susan Ortlieb of http://suko95.blogspot.com/, a fun, interesting book blog with a wonderful graphic which we at Lost in Fiction find very relaxing (all those clouds and pastel colours … just check it out, you’ll know what we mean!). And now, here’s Suko’s review:
“Losing Elizabeth” by Tanya Peterson, published in 2012, is a young adult book I definitely want to share with my daughters. Themes in young adult fiction frequently focus on the challenges faced by young people as they struggle for independence, and may include problems that are actually quite adult in nature and disturbing, such as the one in this book. Never before have I read a book with an exclusive focus on this subject.
Elizabeth Carter, the protagonist of “Losing Elizabeth”, is a junior in high school with a lot going for her. An excellent student and tennis player, she plans to participate in many school activities, and hopes to go to college to become an engineer. She has wonderful friends, such as Meg, and gets along well with her parents. To add to her happiness, Brad Evans, a handsome and athletic senior at her school shows interest in her, and becomes her boyfriend. She’s in seventh heaven! However, her happiness is short-lived, and things spiral out of control for Elizabeth quickly.
With sensitivity and grace, the author of “Losing Elizabeth” paints a realistic and troubling scenario for readers. Elizabeth (or “Lizzie”) finds herself in an unsettling relationship with Brad. As he attempts to control her, he grows increasingly abusive to her emotionally, and the abuse becomes physical as well. Young and innocent, Elizabeth wants to believe that his actions stem from his deep love for her, and so she accepts his poor treatment of her (although it puzzles her at times). Brad berates her and tells her that she’s not good enough, or smart enough, and she begins to believe what he says is true. Feeling unwanted in his family, Brad takes out his anger and frustration on Elizabeth, and bullies her until she’s gives up much of what she loves, in order to spend more time with him. Her grades and extra-curricular activities suffer, her relationships with others disintegrate, and her self-esteem takes a nosedive. This short but harrowing story will remain with me for a long time.
As the mother of teen girls, I want my daughters to find relationships that will nurture them, not hurt them. The self-esteem of girls is often quite fragile, and needs to be solidified rather than shattered. This book broke my heart because I know it depicts a real and serious problem. In the story Elizabeth does not heed the warnings of others because she wants to believe that this “great” boy really loves her, in spite of the signs. “Losing Elizabeth” is a cautionary tale that may help bring awareness to this problem. What I liked about the book is that it’s well written and that the characters seem like real people. Elizabeth’s thoughts are given in the book, and her ambivalence and confusion are depicted at times, in a truthful manner. She changes herself to please her controlling her boyfriend, which is believable as girls are taught too often to bend to the will of others, to consider themselves less important. Elizabeth’s voice is authentic and her feelings are understandable. She wants to believes that she’s loved, and is thrilled to have a boyfriend, especially one like Brad, who seems to have it all. But underneath, he’s very troubled and unable to control himself, a sly bully who makes Elizabeth doubt her intelligence and abilities. It’s sad, but it’s also an important book for young people and adults (and without saying too much, the ending is excellent). I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction, and I choose what I read in this genre carefully. Parents and young adults who are on the brink of dating (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure), or who may need help getting out of an abusive relationship, should read “Losing Elizabeth”. Disclosure: I received this book from the author, Tanya J. Peterson. *Losing Elizabeth* is her first novel. I hope it is not her last!
Info about the blogger:
Susan created her blog in 2008, as a celebration of of books, reading, and writing. She has a
B.A. from Scripps College: British and American Literature and Art. Her interests include:, Reading, Writing, Blogging, Art, Music, Theater, Health and Fitness (spin fanatic), Organic Gardening, Good food (she’s a connoisseur of extra dark chocolate). She’s also a Fan of classic movies, Foreign films, and Comedies