A school project gives Amelie the idea. She’ll create a memory map of all the places he made her cry.

I’ve run out of words to use that mean “crying”, and we’re not even at the Cube yet. I’m going to have to thesaurus.com the word. By the end of this, I’m going to be bewailing and lamenting just so I don’t bore you with the word cry.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public chronicles the highs and lows of an unhealthy teenage relationship. It never fools you into thinking it’s going to be a romance, the current timeline narrative clearly lets you know it went sour. That narrative is second person, directly addressing Reese.

When her dad is made redundant, their family is uprooted from Sheffield to the South of England, meaning Amelie leaves her friends, and boyfriend behind. She and Alfie have an agreement, they’ll meet again at university but in the meantime, they are free to live their lives apart. But this story isn’t about Alfie, the boy who is there as an example of a healthy relationship.

The “it” that I’m working through now. The messy line of biro. The dots on a map where you made me cry – I’m sure it’s all my fault somehow. If only I’d done things differently. Been… less me, then I wouldn’t have driven you away.

Amelie is just starting to make friends when the whirlwind that is Reese enters her life. Alfie appears to be distancing himself from her, and Reese says and does all the right things. He makes her feel intoxicated, not like the steady love she had before. She ignores the warnings of her new friends, and jumps in head first into a new relationship.

What happens between them is told through flashbacks, connected to all the places she cried in public, mostly because of him. It shows how an abusive relationship doesn’t need to involve black eyes and broken bones, it can be emotional and insidious. She finds herself changing herself to please him, to stop him getting angry with her. Like many young women, she is manipulated into things she really doesn’t want to do, just because he says it’s what everyone does. Doesn’t she want to make him happy?

I wish I had listened to my gut. It takes guts to listen to your gut, though. It takes bravery to walk away from something because part of your bowel tells you to. I mean, who does that? That is crazy.

It’s pretty upsetting in places. Holly Bourne does have the knack of hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the harsh realities of being a teenage girl in the here and now. This is so far from the fluffy romance that a lot of people think YA is.

ATY Challenge: 2. A book by an author whose last name is one syllable

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Book Source: Purchased