Last month I adored Break Your Glass Slippers and bought all of Amanda Lovelace’s books that I didn’t already own. To Make Monsters Out of Girls was one of these books. For some reason, after re-reading Pretending I decided I wanted to add to my emotional devastation by reading this poetry book.
All of Lovelace’s books deal with the trauma of abusive/toxic relationships in some way. To Make Monsters Out of Girls, though, focuses on such a relationship in a very keen sense. As the title attests, Lovelace wants to explore how such a relationship twists the survivor as well as the abuser. In so doing, she touches on the lasting harm that abuse creates, yet they also end the book on a note of hope. A reminder that, yes, you can heal and—if you so desire—you may one day find another person who means a great deal to you.
This book resonated less for me on a personal level than Lovelace’s previous works. As I said in my review of Break Your Glass Slippers, that book really helped me in some ways process some of my emotions related to a friend’s abusive relationship. This book, being far more focused on the survivor’s own grief and other emotions, doesn’t touch upon the same dimensions of friendship and support, and so there is less here that feels relatable to me personally.
As a result, I can say I enjoyed this book like I have all of Lovelace’s poetry. There’s something about the way they right, the honesty and rawness that shade over into vulnerability, that definitely appeals. I also just appreciate the willingness to challenge the narrative that love is all about constant happiness. Our society is getting better at talking about abuse, but emotional abuse is still not acknowledged enough, and we still have too many narratives around romance that promote or excuse abusive behaviour. To Make Monsters Out of Girls rejects these premises and insists on calling out the toxic ideas we often internalize in such relationships.
So, I wouldn’t call this one of my favourite Lovelace books. I see this as a positive thing, because it means I have read enough of their books to have these kinds of opinions. I’m intrigued to see how the sequel affects me, and then to dive into her newest book, which might be more my speed.