I Hold Your Heart

I Hold Your Heart

The tense, tender must-read book of the summer - perfect for fans of Louise O'Neill and Sara Barnard'You make me feel like there's something good in the world I can hold on to,' Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it's almost hard to breathe. 'I love you, Gem. And I promise I'll hold your heart forever.'When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first t/>'You...

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Title:I Hold Your Heart
Author:Karen Gregory
Rating:
Edition Language:English

I Hold Your Heart Reviews

  • Megan  (YABookers)

    : I received this free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Gemma is a confident, aspiring singer with a brilliant group of friends. She meets Aaron, who is confident, sensitive, and charming. He sweeps Gemma off her feet, he says just the right things, he makes her feel special and loved. But Aaron isn’t exactly all that he seems. His behaviour starts becoming increasingly erratic and controlling, and those around Gemma become increasingly concerned.

    I

    : I received this free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Gemma is a confident, aspiring singer with a brilliant group of friends. She meets Aaron, who is confident, sensitive, and charming. He sweeps Gemma off her feet, he says just the right things, he makes her feel special and loved. But Aaron isn’t exactly all that he seems. His behaviour starts becoming increasingly erratic and controlling, and those around Gemma become increasingly concerned.

    was an

    is a book about emotional abuse and it delves very deep into how a seemingly perfect relationship is very far from it. From an outsider perspective, it’s easy to become frustrated with Gemma not being able to see these red flags, but with those in a relationship like the one shown, those red flags can be hard to see. Her support system was removed, and her feelings manipulated. The more insecure she gets, the more successful his tactics are.

    I think

    is an important book, it has some important messages about what love should be and what you should reasonably be expected to give to a relationship. It shows how fast a relationship can spiral to being controlling and obsessive and how easy it can be to get caught up in one, and how difficult it can be to get out of one.

    I really adored the friendship group and I think it highlighted how abusers work. They alienate you and isolate you. It also really highlighted how vital a support network also is to escape situations like the one shown. I really loved her friend Cal, and I absolutely adored her friend Esi – she was also black & bi!

    was a chilling and compelling, and almost unputdownable, read. A hard topic to read about but it is a reality for a lot of people today and I think Karen Gregory has done an excellent job treating the topic with care and sensitivity.

  • Sandra

    It was the cover that first attracted me to this book, which is ironic when it is actually labelled as being a “draft cover”. I actually like this cover and when you have completed reading the book, you know it does really fit it well. Its main colour is red which is associated with love & passion. Then there’s the barbed wire in a heart shape, which beautifully represents what the relationship between Gemma and Aaron becomes. The byline of "When Does Love Become Possession"....this also des

    It was the cover that first attracted me to this book, which is ironic when it is actually labelled as being a “draft cover”. I actually like this cover and when you have completed reading the book, you know it does really fit it well. Its main colour is red which is associated with love & passion. Then there’s the barbed wire in a heart shape, which beautifully represents what the relationship between Gemma and Aaron becomes. The byline of "When Does Love Become Possession"....this also describes what Gemma and Aarons relationship comes.

    The book is basically begins as a boy meets girl, the whole too and fro, of asking for a date and so on. Everything is fine to begin with, however all that soon changes.

    We meet Gemma at the beginning of the book, a young girl who loves playing her guitar, writing songs, she works at the local beach café with best friend Esi and is part of a loving family. As part of this loving family she supports her younger brother Michael in his hopes for becoming a professional footballer by attending all his home games, her rather football obsessed father usually attends the away games too. Gemma has a best friend is Esi, but also has other friends like Cal who shares her love of music. Then there’s Phoebe, Beth and Rachael who she also hangs out with at college. It’s the first year Gemma and Esi have not had exactly the same classes with each other. Its because they have made different A level subjects. At least they can all meet up in the refectory at lunch time.

    Aaron is a couple of years older than Gemma which makes him all the more exciting as it means he has a car so can give her lifts to and from college. Aaron stays in a flat with his dad, though his dad is around at his new girlfriend’s house more than at the flat. He used to live in London with his mum. So, Aaron is alone quite a lot with no company other than his golden Labrador, Moonshine. It soon becomes apparent from little things Aaron says that he has been hurt in a previous relationship. Aaron keeps mentioning his ex Cherine and how she betrayed and cheated on him.

    It is one of Gemma’s friends that shows her the music competition called “From Nashville With Love”. The makers of the show want to discover the UK’s best country singers. The prize is £10,000-worth of promotion, time in a recording studio, the chance to sing in front of all the major record labels, and what Gemma considers the best part of the prize, which is, a year’s mentoring from The Greenwoods! Who are Gemma’s favourite country singers. The competition has three rounds, Auditions, Regional Finals, Then the winners from the twelve regions go on to a televised national final to find the ultimate winners! Gemma decides to enter and puts her everything into writing the songs and as Cal often sings along when Gemma plays her music, he becomes the perfect partner to enter the competition with.

    As the relationship develops between Aaron and Gemma he starts turning up at the café when she is working. Then he starts making little comments how he doesn’t understand why Gemma isn’t attending Portsmouth College as that has a dedicated programme for performers etc. Gemma just explains it was too far for dad to take her and that she doesn’t mind and so on. Nevertheless, Aaron manages to acknowledge what Gemma is saying but puts his own spin on it. Saying her whole family seem to revolve around Michael, why does Gemma have to attend all of his home games? Why aren’t her parents supporting her in the music competition? Aaron also show extreme jealously when he sees the good friendship Gemma has with Cal. Gemma explains he is singing in the competition with her and they need to rehearse. Aaron then quietens but becomes reticent giving the impression of the “little boy lost” element he had that had originally attracted Gemma’s attention to him. Aaron has all the "right line" and seriously knows how to play on Gemma's emotions. Beginning with the whole "As You Wish" Princess Diaries references he uses when he is with her. Then that moves up to "I love You" and the rather poetic "I Hold You Heart" which turns out to be a spin on an old piece of poetry.

    Gemma becomes more and more aware of what she is doing and whether Aaron would approve or not. Aaron manages to pressure Gemma into having sex, telling her she is beautiful, yet then giving her vouchers for a salon for waxing treatment. She doesn’t normally was but again feels compelled to use the vouchers so she doesn’t offend Aaron by not using them. The once on time or organised early person to the lesson/meeting, Gemma becomes tardy both at school and in her job. Her eagerness to rehearse her songs with Cal turn into excuse after excuse for not turning up. Even when she does attend lessons, she is often too tired to function and take part as she used to. Her friends try to explain to her what she is doing, cutting them off, to the point of not having time to have a chat about something important to Esi.

    Things all come to a head and Gemma at age 17 decides to move out of her family home and live with Aaron. By this time, she has handed her notice in at the Beach Café as she is sick of talking to Esi. The reason she is “sick of” Esi is that she is the voice of reason. Telling Gemma she is cutting off all her friends just because she has a boyfriend. Aaron does a lot of underhand, controlling things like taking possession of Gemma’s mobile phone so “she can rest undisturbed”. By doing this he can edit and delete any messages, text or voicemail that Gemma’s family or friends send her. Aaron has his own idea of what Gemma should be like, what she should be doing as well as what she wears etc. It comes to the point that without Aaron, Gemma simply cannot function on any level. The relationship becomes more and more claustrophobic until Gemma has to leave the flat and goes walking, even contemplating suicide as a way out. Gemma has sacrificed everything for Aaron.

    I won't go into anymore details or what happens after Gemma's walk to "clear her head". Gemma has to ask herself some really difficult questions and answer them in a brutally honest way like, What does she have if she doesn't have him anymore? Where can she go? How can her life go on? and the classic What will people say?

    This book is really well written, possibly by someone who has been through this kind of relationship or has done an abundance of research. The story is told from the point of views of Gemma and Aaron. To be honest I was a good partway through reading this book when I noticed the realistic and purely honest writing style reminded me of another book I had read some time ago which I guess would fall into a similar category or genre to this book. When I managed to remember the title of the book and looked it up was when I realised both books were by the same author. When choosing books to read I try not to be swayed to read books by a small range of authors which is why I don’t take much notice of the authors name when checking out my next books to read. Don’t get me wrong if I love an author, I will read more of their books but it won’t be the specific reason for choosing a certain book.

    What an amazingly realistic honest depiction of how a controlling relationship begins, takes hold and progresses. It took me back and reminded me of a past relationship. I kind of wish I had had this book to read. Definitely thought provoking and a possibly great way to educate about such relationships. You feel like you are right there, like a fly on the wall watching the relationship of Gemma and Aaron.

  • Donna Maguire

    I had been looking forward to reading this one since I read the blurb and I read the book at work over a few lunch breaks and it was a complete distraction for me – so massive thanks to the author for helping me to escape on a daily basis!

    The subject in the book is a topical one at the moment and there are sadly a lot of similar cases being reported in the news. The story had me thinking too, everyone thinks, including myself, that they can probably spot the signs of an abus

    I had been looking forward to reading this one since I read the blurb and I read the book at work over a few lunch breaks and it was a complete distraction for me – so massive thanks to the author for helping me to escape on a daily basis!

    The subject in the book is a topical one at the moment and there are sadly a lot of similar cases being reported in the news. The story had me thinking too, everyone thinks, including myself, that they can probably spot the signs of an abusive relationship but if it was happening to you, would you notice and how would you react…

    I loved the character development for this one, Gemma and Aaron change and develop a lot through the book and I really enjoyed trying to anticipate how it would all end.

    It is 5 stars from me for this one, I was hooked by the story and loved how the author built up the suspense and that ending – excellent – very highly recommended!!

  • The Reads

    I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

    It is always a welcome surprise when you receive a book especially in the YA category that blows you away both for the storytelling and the absolute importance that story carries. Where on earth was this story when I was an impressionable 17-year-old girl? This is the story I needed but I’m so very grateful that young adults have this. If you’re a parent of a teenage girl

    I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

    It is always a welcome surprise when you receive a book especially in the YA category that blows you away both for the storytelling and the absolute importance that story carries. Where on earth was this story when I was an impressionable 17-year-old girl? This is the story I needed but I’m so very grateful that young adults have this. If you’re a parent of a teenage girl BUY THIS BOOK NOW for them. I hold your heart is the first novel of Karen Gregory’s that I have read and boy it didn’t disappoint. This piece of work is an important work of fiction, stunningly flawed and bursting with hope and pain.

    When I started this book (literally only 10 hours ago) I knew that it would grip me, but I also knew it would be hard going and extremely close to the bone for me personally. The author sang to my soul. I can’t emphasise just how much this book touched me. I had confidence early on that this author was going to nail this one home and boy did she ever.

    Domestic Abuse, Gaslighting and the naivety of youth – all very harrowing themes but handled with care and respect. Now, I’ve read some books that have tried but failed in highlighting the importance of these issues and but never quite hit home just how important it is that the youth of today realise the signs and get out of that situation and accept all the help that is given to them- family, friends and the authorities. There was no sweeping this under the rug from the author- Domestic Abuse isn’t the big bad evil that is easy to spot. Domestic Abuse is the kind eyes, sweet words and the reeling you in with beautiful gestures. Domestic Abuse is all around us…your family or your friends are enduring this right now. That person beside you on the tube, on the bus is suffering. Know the signs, end the suffering.

    Gemma is an aspiring singer with mind-blowing talent, she’s a sister, a daughter and a friend. She doesn’t have the perfect life – she feels like she plays second fiddle to her brother, the super talented football player with a bright future. Their lives revolve around football – spending weekends at football matches, washing her brothers’ dishes, washing her brothers kit and eating specialised meals that benefit her brother, did anyone care to ask about her? What did she want to do? Karen really started the seeds just within that family setting. How easily Gemma just went along with the situation, was she susceptible to the attentions of Aaron? More likely he preyed on it but still it made for interesting thoughts. This book was so close to my own experience of being 17 it was actually quite frightening. The events are near enough the same to matter and it just connected with me on such a deep and meaningful level. This novel was a door to my past, but I walked through it all the same.

    I really felt for Gemma. On one hand she is a naive girl who is trying to find her place in the world but one who ultimately has the confidence knocked from her every being. Getting knocked down so far you do seriously start to question everything around you. A girl that carries on through pain and suffering but still believes in love and destiny.

    This brings me front and centre with Aaron. He appears on the surface to overly sensitive but caring and extremely loving to Gemma. He starts off being a likeable male protagonist and you’re almost willing to look past his odd behaviours because on the surface he seems to really like Gemma but there is a fine line between love and obsession. However, from early on you get this feeling that you can’t shake that something is majorly wrong with this boy. He loves all the things Gemma does, turns up where she is (even though she hasn’t told him), and his experience with his ex Cherine just sets all kinds of alarm bells going off – the seriously ear-splitting type. You are sucked into the story and it is horrifying to witness just how systematically he operates – planting seeds of doubt about her family not needing or loving her quite like her brother. It didn’t take much for this to take hold and its heart-breaking to watch. Everyone could see how he was changing her – to an extent even she knew it, but nothing is quite as blind as love. Everything suffers in her life – her friendships, her family, college and most painful of all – her love of music.

    The story was told mostly in Gemma’s perspective, but Aaron had some chapters and boy let me tell you it gave a much darker insight in his psyche and gave a deeper dimension into the story. The insight it brought us really made us understand that he was not of a sane mind but one that was Obsessive, controlling, disturbed and broken.

    The one question that was all on the tip of my tongue was….Will she actually leave him though? Well you’ll need to read that for yourself to find out.

    I’m not ashamed to say that I cried during parts of this book. The plot is just so utterly horrifying but not like in horror books but the pure fear that this is actually happening all around us and we wouldn’t even know. I received an e-copy of this book but upon finishing it I purchased a paperback of it.

    I hold your heart is deeply compelling. The most important YA read of 2019 and one that every parent of a YA should read. Emotions hang in the balance, fear runs rampant. Relationships in tatters. Karen Gregory has smashed the boundaries and brought us the novel we all need.

  • Veronika

    Wow, this book got to me.

    It is a story about how easily you can get tangled in the abusive relationship and how incredibly hard it is to get out.

    The book was wonderfully well written. I loved author's writing style, even if the book is YA, the writing felt very mature and cultivated. The story got me from the first pages and I couldn't stop reading. I was simply captivated.

    It was powerful and deep and I am so glad that I read this one.

  • Bookread2day

    Although, I Hold Your Heart is a teen romance, it's also for adults too. I connected with Gemma who is in love with Aaron, he is kind and caring. But Aaron has two sides to him, he has committed domestic abuse and controlling Gemma. He has stopped Gemma seeing her family and friends. In a temper, he accused Gemma of things that are clearly a rage of not just things in his head but jealousy. I connected to Gemma because when I was in my late teens I had two relationship one where I was frightened

    Although, I Hold Your Heart is a teen romance, it's also for adults too. I connected with Gemma who is in love with Aaron, he is kind and caring. But Aaron has two sides to him, he has committed domestic abuse and controlling Gemma. He has stopped Gemma seeing her family and friends. In a temper, he accused Gemma of things that are clearly a rage of not just things in his head but jealousy. I connected to Gemma because when I was in my late teens I had two relationship one where I was frightened of my boyfriend with his temper and the other boyfriend stopped me from seeing my friends. I recommend reading I Hold Your Heart as it is so well written I honestly couldn't put it down. A page turner from the first page until the last. I'm now a huge fan of Karen Gregory.

  • Karen Barber

    From a distance, everyone thinks they can spot the signs of an abusive relationship.

    From a distance, you think you know that some actions are just not what forms part of a healthy relationship.

    But when you’re the one in that situation, how easy is it to tell?

    When Gemma first meets Aaron she’s confident and outgoing, has a part-time job, dreams of singing and is just starting A-levels. Within weeks of meeting Aaron things are shifting. She starts giving up things that meant so m

    From a distance, everyone thinks they can spot the signs of an abusive relationship.

    From a distance, you think you know that some actions are just not what forms part of a healthy relationship.

    But when you’re the one in that situation, how easy is it to tell?

    When Gemma first meets Aaron she’s confident and outgoing, has a part-time job, dreams of singing and is just starting A-levels. Within weeks of meeting Aaron things are shifting. She starts giving up things that meant so much to her. Is it because Aaron loves her, or is there a more sinister angle?

    Reading this knowing what the story focused on meant I was on alert throughout, looking for signs that it was heading that way. But the way the story developed felt very natural, and it’s easy to see just how easy it could be to end up in a situation you’re not entirely comfortable with.

    An emotional journey, which may not ring true for everyone, but it will certainly get people talking.

    The link to the e.e. cumming’s poem has now given a much more sinister vibe to what always seemed such a heartfelt sentiment. The power of words.

  • Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    A really fascinating (though also harrowing) look at manipulative relationships, almost like a UKYA version of IT ENDS WITH US.

    From the very beginning of IHYH, you get sense of faint unease. Aaron, the love interest, is incredibly perfect on the surface - attractive, thoughtful, has a dog and a nice car - but he turns up in the same place too many times for it to be coincidence and soon there are major red lights in his small actions and words. By halfway through, I actually wanted to shake the

    A really fascinating (though also harrowing) look at manipulative relationships, almost like a UKYA version of IT ENDS WITH US.

    From the very beginning of IHYH, you get sense of faint unease. Aaron, the love interest, is incredibly perfect on the surface - attractive, thoughtful, has a dog and a nice car - but he turns up in the same place too many times for it to be coincidence and soon there are major red lights in his small actions and words. By halfway through, I actually wanted to shake the heroine - but I could also easily see why she couldn’t see the manipulation that was happening to her. And when she did realise, the book was honest in its portrayal of how difficult it is to leave such an abusive relationship.

    I liked the split narrative, and getting the views of both. You understood Aaron and the way he thought (though not entirely later on, as some of his thoughts were inexcusable), and were able to see when he made some spectacularly bad choices. And then, when he started being downright manipulative and cruel, you absolutely loathed him.

    That new girl in the cafe at the end? I wanted to shout at her to run away, as fast as she could.

    A great read for YA readers that helps educate about abusive relationships. Tightly paced and quickly read, it’s certainly worth a look.

  • Zubs Malik

    This book was not an easy one to read but more a necessary one. Especially for those young adults/teenagers venturing into first time love and relationships with the view of forever and happy ever after in their minds.

    What this book does, told through the eyes of two fictional characters (Gemma and Aaron) is highlight abuse at its core and how manipulative it can be to change your entire life. Sometimes, I could hardly bare to read on, one section in particular – had me up the better part of th

    This book was not an easy one to read but more a necessary one. Especially for those young adults/teenagers venturing into first time love and relationships with the view of forever and happy ever after in their minds.

    What this book does, told through the eyes of two fictional characters (Gemma and Aaron) is highlight abuse at its core and how manipulative it can be to change your entire life. Sometimes, I could hardly bare to read on, one section in particular – had me up the better part of the night because this was in fact reality for so many young adults in first time relationships.

    Karen Gregory didn’t flinch, especially with what she wrote on paper – such candid honesty and it seriously had me thinking how far into the darkness did she have to go to research what she wrote.

    Not an easy read, but an essential one. One that I think all should read despite its YA label but more so for my younger followers. This book will help you realise the signs of coercive control and abuse. You can slowly see the pivotal moments the dynamics change and when ultimately red flags should arise. This book should serve as a warning manual for both male and female young adults, for what is okay and what is not.

    This book pulls no punches with facts and analysis, and the breakdown of coercive control explains emotional abuse far better than any book I’ve read.

    Zubs

  • ThatBookGal

    I’d say my overwhelming feeling after finishing this one, was that it was a little bit boring. I was really surprised by that because the premise is fairly dramatic, and the cover somewhat promised drama with its barbed heart.

    Domestic abuse is definitely a crucial topic, and this one doesn’t really shy away from it, although after the slow build up, the full scale abuse is somewhat skirted over in just a chapter or two. The build up was definitely cleverly handled, as an adult you cant understa

    I’d say my overwhelming feeling after finishing this one, was that it was a little bit boring. I was really surprised by that because the premise is fairly dramatic, and the cover somewhat promised drama with its barbed heart.

    Domestic abuse is definitely a crucial topic, and this one doesn’t really shy away from it, although after the slow build up, the full scale abuse is somewhat skirted over in just a chapter or two. The build up was definitely cleverly handled, as an adult you cant understand how Gemma can’t see it happening, as it seems fairly obvious that he’s a control freak from the start.

    For me, I don’t think it was necessary to give Aaron a POV, and I really disliked that as an addition. This is addressed in an authors note at the end of the book, however, I didn’t like the feeling of giving the abuser a voice, when they already have one that’s loud and proud. The victims are the ones that need to be heard.

    Character wise, I found Gemma to be a little arrogant, and so didn’t hugely click with her, although of course I could sympathise. For me the heroes of the piece, were her best friend and her mother, they totally stole the show. Of course Aaron is supposed to be the main villain, but to be honest, it was Gemma’s parents who really made me feel ill. The way her dad spoke to her mother throughout the book, and the way they spoke to her, and idolised the other child....I really wanted a better to conclusion to that, other than ‘oh me and your dad are having problems’.

    This would certainly be a good book for a YA book club, to get teens discussing Aaron’s behaviour and what was worrying, what was normal. Other than that, I’m not sure it’s one id personally recommend.

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