I won't lie, when I agreed to take part in this book tour, reviewing If You Love Me I'm Yours by Lizzie Chantree, I expected to hate it. I signed up last minute because I was between books and wanted something to do that felt vaguely productive. Downloading it onto my iPad, I started it this weekend with little to no expectations, thinking it would be nothing more than a smushy chick-lit that would make me roll my eyes so far back in my head they'd detach and get stuck somewhere beneath my eyebrows.
Oh, how wrong I was.
For the first time in a very long time, I connected with the character I was reading about. Maud is a cripplingly insecure school teacher with incredible artistic talent that she hides from the world as a result of her family's disapproval. She tries and tries to get them to understand her passion for art but it falls on deaf and discouraging, ears. To release her inner Georgia O'Keefe, she starts leaving paintings around her local town with the signature 'If you love me, I'm yours' scribbled on the bottom. She doesn't want anyone to see her art, but she doesn't want it to go unnoticed either.
As a child and teenager, I was always artistic. Making things, drawing things, burning things - I did everything I could to unleash the noise in my head, even if at times it wasn't very healthy (entire sketchbook based on my eating disorder anyone?). This all ended when I turned 19 and my friend told me I couldn't draw. I still had bursts of creativity, but I stopped drawing, and I've barely picked up a pencil since.
The idea of having to hide what you're passionate about because of fear of rejection, not to mention the way she feels about her appearance and those around her, struck a chord with me that I never expected. The gorgeous guy she's into and who flirts back? Clearly not interested. The belief that if someone hits on her they must be doing so as a joke? As a teenager, I often assumed that anyone who spoke to me was mid-way through a game of "Pull the Pig". Teasing me, mocking me and playing a joke at the expense of my self-esteem.
Of course, it all works okay in the end. Her career soars, she connects with her parents and (obviously) gets the guy. All things that would normally have me scoffing in disgust, but instead, I found myself tearing up.
I'm not going to say that I burst into sobs thinking that just because this one character in a work of fiction found love and success it automatically means I will too, in fact, it was quite the opposite. Even at the end, her constant worry about her love life and self-deprecation was a MASSIVE pain in the balls. Reading it was like reading my thoughts in book form and made me realise how irritating, and wrong, my thinking process really is.
The other books I've read have been quite diverse. I've discovered complete surprises, unknown genres, and things that I'd happily forget I'd ever read. As with Without a Hitch, this is great for someone who loves a bit of chick-lit, but, luckily, it has far more depth. 9/10