The other day I found myself in a conversation with a few people who thought YA was mostly made up of love triangles, teen angst and paranormal creatures that run around with their shirt off. To be fair, there are a good amount of these kinds of books in YA just as there are in Adult Urban Fantasy or PNR, and there is nothing wrong with these novels.
My issue always stems from the fact that some make blanket statements about YA when they don't even read YA. YA has too much romance. YA is full of girls and their inability to choose which Totally Hot Guy they want to spend the rest of their life with. YA has too much sex; we must protect the children! YA is too dark. Most of these I brush off as ignorance, but the last one usually gives me pause. It's rather ironic that some would want to limit stories that portray harsher lives of teens. It's almost as if they worry it'll rub off on kids, and it's an absurd notion.
Bleed Like Me would fall under the "Dark YA" umbrella -- though, I prefer to refer to it as an Issue Book since "dark" is subjective -- and like Fault Line, I would be hesitant to recommend it to a younger teen (read: under 13 years of age) unless they are reading it with their parent or guardian. It does contain a few mature themes: drugs, cutting, suicide, etc., however, nothing is glamorized and it would be a great book to open discussion.
This novel shows what happens when two teens so deeply tangled in a bad romance, go from bad to worse. It's just as grim, heartbreaking, horrifying and tragic as Desir’s debut. Like Fault Line, nothing is spared and the characters go through situations no one should have to deal with. Twilight has the stigma of being the punchline to YA for Bella and Edward’s co-dependent relationship being glamorized, but in Bleed Like Me, no such fairytale exists. Gannon and Brooks are in an unhealthy relationship, addicted to each other and unable to see how toxic it is.
It’s a quick read, but not always easy due to the subject manner. But I will say it was hard to put down and I spent 2 hours sitting in my grocery store parking lot binge reading because I just had to see how it ended. Nothing good happens in this book, so if you are looking for something light, this won't "Git R Done" for you. Still, it's an important read and I hope more people consider picking it up and giving it a chance. Add this to your list, people. It’s a winner.