Crush by Eve Ainsworth

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Crush by Eve Ainsworth

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A look at how abusive relationships can twist an intense first love into something it shouldn't be. Absorbing, moving, and handled with great sensitivity.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: March 2016
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1407146904

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Anna's mother has left her father - and her brother, and Anna herself. That's how Anna sees it and although her mother wants contact, Anna is refusing it. It's not as though Anna sees this as some heroic defence of father and brother either: she's fed up with them, too. Her father is always distracted and he is definitely favouring little brother Eddie, who, as Anna sees it, is a spoiled brat. School has picked up on the fact that all is not right with Anna and has signed her up for counselling sessions...

... and then, Will appears.

Will is the boy fancied by all the girls at school. A slight aura of badness surrounds him and he is gorgeous to look at. And he is the distraction that Anna needs. For Anna, this teen relationship turns into an intense first love almost straight away and it's not long before she's missing out on time with her best friend and on band practice, or sneaking out at night when she should be babysitting Eddie. So happy to be in love, Anna misses all the clues that are so obvious to the reader and before she knows it, her relationship with Will turns into something that controls and stifles her. And from that point, it's just a tiny step to outright abuse.

Crush is a deeply compelling story and Will is no one-dimensional abuser. He has his own backstory and his own problems, which Ainsworth gradually reveals through short passages told from his point of view interspersed through the main narrative. So we can pity him even while our main sympathies lie with Anna, who is crying out for love and attention but finds the wrong kind. I liked Anna a great deal. She is a strong character and she defies the stereotype that only weak people find themselves in abusive situations. She just falls in love. That's all. And it's awful to see her undermined by Will. You're rooting for her to see the light more and more as you turn each page.

Ainsworth has worked in child protection and the resulting clear sight informs this story, which is honest and non-judgemental and very, very truthful. It's also beautifully written, with sensitive descriptions of feelings and violent situations alike. And the dialogue is great - never stilted or used for info dumps. I think Crush will have a big impact on readers. It certainly did on me. We need stories like this: ones that layout how abusive relationships develop and the awful effects they can have. But also stories that show there is a way through them and into the light.


Meet Me At The Boathouse by Suzanne Bugler also explores abusive relationships with both honesty and sensitivity. We also liked Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas, which is told in poetry.

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Buy Crush by Eve Ainsworth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Crush by Eve Ainsworth at


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