15-year-old Alexandra is envied by her friends for dating Cliff, a popular, athletic senior. But his attentiveness, which she at first finds reassuring, gradually becomes a jealous possessiveness that separates her from other friends. She finds she is afraid to make choices without consulting him, or to do anything social without him. Her behavior is not unlike her mother's, who goes to great lengths to avoid displeasing her father who is quick to anger and insistent upon control and order.

Cliff's anger over apparently small differences becomes increasingly violent as time goes on. He forces sex on her and eventually hits her, after which he apologizes profusely with flowers and promises. By the time this cycle has repeated itself a few times, Alexandra realizes she has to escape. Afraid to do so on her own, she ultimately needs the help of both friends and the police.


This is a chilling, but realistic book about how abusive relationships get started, the needs and fears that motivate them, and the dangers of secrecy and isolation from the normal correctives of social activity with groups of peers. It doesn't overexplain; the story is told rather sparely, but the characters are convincingly developed and the way entrapment happens articulated in a way that should ring true to teenagers who find themselves in psychologically or physically abusive relationships.


Simon & Schuster

Place Published

New York



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