Most of the time when we think of dating violence we think of black eyes and broken bones. When I worked in youth development and we covered teen dating violence the statistics were that 1 in 4 girls would experience dating violence in their teens. According to Love Is Respect the statistic is now 1 in 3 adolescents will experience dating violence. Sit with that for a second. How many children are in your family? How many of them could be that 1?
The thing is this is a serious topic that a lot of parents aren’t always open to discuss with the littles. Now I know a lot of what I cover on the blog is for the smaller littles but I do have a 12 (soon to be 13) year old niece and I worry about her. I think about back in the day (many, many, many moons ago) when I was a teenager and how many different friends I know that became that 1. I was blessed. I wasn’t the 1 in 4 or the 1 in 3. That doesn’t mean that I was smarter than my friends that were. That just means I was fortunate.
With my niece getting older I am always looking for ways to teach her about life without her realizing there’s a lesson happening. I pay attention to the news and bring up topics around sexting, sending and taking provocative photos and how to show/receive love. Listen, I’m far from the cool aunt. I’m the aunt that wants to plant a seed for your garden of life.
When the opportunity to review Amy Fellner Dominy’s novel Die For You found it’s way into my inbox I knew I had to take it. It would be a way to get my niece to (gasp) read a book and be a great way to open dialogue on staying safe in relationships. Being the overprotective aunt I am I decided I would read it first before letting JustaBXniece read it and I am happy that I did. The novel is Young Adult fiction. I think though as adults we have a responsibility to our littles to know the media they’re taking in. I’ve decided that the book is a little too mature to share with my niece right now but I will be holding onto it so that she can read it in a few years. If you have a pre-teen or early teen I think the material is important to begin discussing but I also recommend checking it out yourself and seeing if your little is ready to read the material.
The story is very well written and captivating. The characters are well developed and at least for me they come to life. I read the book from start to finish on two days of commuting. I love the main character of Emma Lorde. She is a smart, confident, mature young woman. She’s the type of girl you wouldn’t expect to find in an abusive relationship. In fact her relationship seemed to be perfect until it wasn’t.
I really love the way Amy brought us along on the journey. It’s always easy from the outside to “blame the victim.” It’s always easy to say she should have known better. Or that she was weak. Maybe she deserved it. I’m betting you have heard each of those in the past. The truth is it is never the victim’s fault. And many times the abuse happens in a way that the victim doesn’t see it coming or have the chance to get away.
In Emma and Dillon’s relationship they are both amazing young people in love. He’s not some ruffian causing ruckus all over town. Dillon is a baseball star. He is the apple of his mother’s eye. He is one of Emma’s first friends when she moves in with her father senior year of high school. As the reader you want them to be happy. You can’t help but like Dillon.
Amy does an amazing job of bringing us along in their relationship. How many times have we been in relationships where we think we can change or save someone? For Emma this story had a happy ending. For other young women in her place it doesn’t always end as well. Like I said I think today my niece is too young to read the novel (mainly because of the sex scenes) but the subject matter is something that I won’t shy away from discussing with her. Don’t get scared. The sex scenes are in good taste. I’m just not ready for my 12 year old niece to read about people having sex.
If you have a teenage daughter or son I think this is a good read for them and for you. Yes, I think our young men need to be educated too. Many times boys don’t realize when a line is crossed. Back when I used to teach youth development we have this unit on date rape where we would tell a story from a girl’s point of view and a boy’s point of view. The young man in the story didn’t view the encounter as rape. The young woman did. It’s a story that transcends age.
I’m sure if you asked Dillon if he hurt Emma it was never his intention. Yet, it happened. He might even have considered himself the victim.
To keep the discussion on the subject going Amy Fellner Dominy has been gracious enough to host a giveaway for you. One lucky reader will receive this beautiful necklace that she had designed in honor of the book.