Love hurts … but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum’s sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He’s handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He’s also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna’s world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control…
Anna is a girl in Year Nine. Her mum has just left their family, leaving Anna with her dad and her brother, Eddie, who she now has to help look after. She is in a vulnerable position. Then Will enters her life. He is two years older than Anna, and has some problems of his own, which you find out about from the short excerpts from his perspective, although they are quite vague at first, and only across the course of the entire book do you discover what his family issues are.
He targets Anna, and makes her feel special, by complimenting her and asking her to spend time with him. And slowly, Anna enters deeper into the relationship. She stops seeing her friends; it makes Will initially annoyed, and later on angry, when she spends time with other people. He slowly yet surely takes over Anna’s life.
Crush is written in a way which means that Anna is not wise to what Will is doing – cutting her off from her loved ones and making her more deeply involved with him – because she does not see anything wrong with him wanting to spend time with her, especially when he explains away her friends’ worry as jealousy, but the reader can see where it is going, even if Anna cannot see it herself. As you read the book, you notice the signs that things aren’t right in their relationship, and it gives a very clear message about what abusive relationships are like.
The inclusion of Lyn, one of Anna’s friends from her neighbourhood, provides a contrast, as Lyn is in a relationship too. However, Lyn’s relationship is far healthier by comparison, and has even been beneficial to him, as he says that his girlfriend helped him to realise his academic potential and apply himself. This further highlights to the reader just how unhealthy Anna and Will’s relationship is.
The ending, in my opinion, was neither happy nor sad, although I think it would be difficult if not impossible to write a happy ending to a story about abusive relationships. When the abuse starts to become more serious, Anna finds the courage to turn to her friends, and they help her talk to adults, and I think that this was the best possible outcome in a bad situation. However, there were definitely ways that things could have been worse, such as if Anna hadn’t talked to her friends.
I think that Crush is a very important book, as it shows the signs of an abusive relationship, and how easily things can go out of control, and hopefully people can learn from this. It’s also important because it shows that Anna is the victim in this, as Will manipulates her emotionally, and that Anna is not to blame. Reading it was almost a little bit scary as it shows how easily Anna was manipulated, and therefore it is key that more people are aware of the signs that a relationship is unhealthy, so I would definitely recommend Crush.