Published: May 17th, 2016
Publisher: Blaze Publishing, LLC
Read from September 20th to 28th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.
Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she's forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.
Because I Love You left me feeling conflicted. If we're only talking about the level of enjoyment I got from the book, it was great. I was incredibly into the plot and invested in the character's stories. I felt for them and wanted them to be happy (except for those who I very much didn't want to be happy). I would recommend the book from that standpoint.
That being said, I did sometimes find things a little too dramatic or a little too good to be true. It's hard to provide specific examples of what I mean without spoiling the book, but there were several sections where I did struggle to believe that certain things were actually happening. It didn't take much away from my enjoyment, however, because I was very into the story. This book is the first I've cried over in quite a while.
The one other big issue I had with the book deals with the topic of race. The character Jill is Native American. Twice in the book, Neil (who's race isn't stated, which I know means he'll be read as white by most) refers to her as "Pocahontas". During one of these instances, we get Jill's angry reaction, but with the way it's presented, readers have to interpret whether she's joking with him or serious. The reason you can't really tell is because Neil treats it as a joke and continues to laugh about it even after Jill's reaction. Jill doesn't say anything after Neil continues to laugh. Andie, the narrator, doesn't have much of a reaction to the comment (either time). The second time it happens, Jill's father is in the room, but he makes no comment when Neil calls his daughter "Pocahontas", and we don't get a reaction from Jill that time either. When her father speaks again, he's talking about a different subject and has ignored the comment all together.
Considering recent politics in the United States (i.e. Trump and his people repeatedly referring to Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas"), I feel like most people should have at least some awareness of why Neil's "jokes" here aren't tasteful. If you don't, here are links that should help give you an idea. Nothing put me off more in the book than those two moments, and I so strongly wish they hadn't been there. It isn't often that there are Native American characters in YA literature, and then to have one of the few that exists jokingly called "Pocahontas" in the book, which is like a direct jab at the fact that so few Americans know important Native American figures, was just disappointing.
I would have enjoyed the book a lot more without those two moments because of how much they angered me, and that's quite a shame since the book was largely enjoyable, if a little unbelievable at times.
I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.