Mine is Emily Merrill’s debut novel, recently published by Salad Pages. Emily wrote it when she was 18 years old and now, at age 21, she saw her dream of being a published author come true – and what an incredible way to kick start a writing career! Mine is a novel that raises awareness of how ‘perfect relationships’ may hide the darkest truths and realities. In this two-part blog post, which is part of Mine‘s book blog tour, I will first share with you my honest review of the book and then an exclusive interview with the inspiring young author, Emily Merrill.
Genre of Book
Contemporary Romance for Young Adults
Number of pages
Mine is Emily Merrill’s debut novel and, before I tell you anything else about this book, I must say that I seldom read novels. You can find tons of memoirs, self-development and business books on my personal shelves, but you won’t find that many novels. I’m a very picky reader when it comes to novels and, more often than not, I rarely finish reading one. Unless, of course, the story speaks to some deeper aspect of my soul – and that’s what clearly happened with Mine.
I think this is a very well conceived Young Adult book: from its beautifully illustrated cover by Kate Rowland to its educational content and Emily’s writing style, this is certainly a remarkable book. I recommend it to both young and older readers because, although we are in the 21st century, the sad truth is that we don’t know much about relationships and emotional health. We fantasise about having the perfect partner, but some of us do struggle to distinguish between what is healthy and what is abusive within a relationship. Through her novel however, Emily is filling up the gap by gathering and incorporating several redflags into her storyline. Some of these redflags include controlling behaviour, gaslighting, and physical violence, three clear signs of a toxic relationship.
I read and finished Mine in less than a week. I got addicted to the story and to the characters. We have Avery, an aspiring young author, who lives away from home while studying Literature in York. Her boyfriend, Luke, moves to York as well in order to uplevel their relationship. What Avery couldn’t know was that such move would be the opposite of their so carefully pre-planned future together. Luke, who was once caring and supportive, becomes a different person, especially when Avery tries to equally share her time between her friends, her writing, her family, her boyfriend and herself.
People that love you aren’t supposed to hurt you (Mine by Emily Merril)Tweet
Having talked about emotionally abusive relationships several times here on the blog (here and here), I found Emily’s book so close to reality that I could almost swear it wasn’t a fictional story at all. It’s a very raw and real depiction of what happens in an abusive relationship. First and foremost, you are swept off your feet and ‘love bombed’. You think the other person is everything you ever wanted, because it all seems so perfect: the amount of attention, care and support you receive, the way they make you feel… At some point though, you start to realise that ‘something’ is off, something has changed. You might not be able to pinpoint what and when you bring it up with your partner, you are likely to see your doubts and concerns easily dismissed or even laughed at.
I never experienced a relationship rooted in physical abuse, but I have surely experienced emotional and psychological abuse in different relationships. It took me a long while to acknowledge and learn about the redflags, the cycle of narcissism, and most of all the pillars of self-love, which is probably one of the most important aspects to develop when you have the tendency to ‘mysteriously’ find yourself in toxic relationships. Emily’s novel touches base with all these aspects and it teaches us the most precious lesson of all: we are enough and worthy, no matter what, and we must NEVER stay in an abusive relationship.
If you or someone you know are experiencing some sort of abuse, please do talk about it with someone you trust or do seek a therapist, even if feeling vulnerable scares you more than anything. Our strong emotions do cloud our reasoning and prevent us from seeing what is the best course of action for us, so it’s paramount to have someone to help you seeing things through. Remember that people who we once thought to be our ‘perfect partner’ will hardly change from night to day and they are usually great masters of disguise as well – their main goal is to keep us confused and insecure, so that it’s easier for them to manipulate and bend us to their own will. Their promises about ‘changing themselves’ may be well intended, but they rarely become a reality. Please, ask someone for help and break free from the manipulation cycle.
INTERVIEW with Author Emily Merrill
Emily, Mine is your debut novel. Well done! What inspired you to write such a realistic and awakening story?
Thank you! I wanted to write a story that would be meaningful, and would open up the discussion about young adults in controlling relationships (something I hadn’t found much of in the YA books I was reading at the time). Avery popped into my head one day as a result of the things I’d been observing/hearing about/seeing online and I really felt like I needed to tell her story. I wanted my first novel to have a strong sense of self-love and independence as well, and the journey you might find yourself on to get there.
Your book made me cry a couple of times, because you really managed to depict strong human emotions, which are not very easy to convey through words. Was it hard to write the more vulnerable scenes in Mine?
It was extremely difficult to write through Avery’s eyes sometimes. Her journey is a tough one, and I cried for her too. I feel like she’s an old friend now, and I want to give her a hug! I had to do a lot of research for the abusive relationship storyline, and I wanted to tackle it as sensitively as I could. The scenes with Luke were definitely the trickiest, because I had to try and convey why Avery loved him so much, at the same time as writing all of his abusive behaviour.
I think it is really hard to explain and educate people on how abuse can arise within a relationship in such a way that people don’t even realise they are being mistreated.
You offered us a very realistic snippet of how abuse escalates. If you could give one piece of advice to men and women who are currently victims of any kind of abuse in a relationship, what would that be?
I would say to open up. Talk about it with friends, family, health professionals, the authorities. Don’t suffer in silence, and remember that you are so worthy and valued, and that you are not to blame. You deserve the best treatment and so much respect. In the face of a situation so terrifying that you can’t imagine breaking out of it, draw strength from not only yourself, but others in your life, and those that are ready and willing to help you.
Mine helped me close another chapter on codependency. Do you think that is one of the major reasons why people stay in abusive relationships?
I can’t really say, as it is not something I have experienced myself. I do think Avery struggled so much to leave Luke because he isolated her enough to make her believe she was dependent on him, and at the beginning of their relationship (with her Mum’s affair fresh in her life), she probably was extremely dependent on his support. During the novel she becomes unable to see all of the other valuable, vibrant parts of her life. She was in a heartbreaking situation, and my love goes out to anyone experiencing similar things.
There is definitely something about writers and old town coffee shops, isn’t it? I could really relate to Avery and with having a favourite spot to write from. Are coffee shops your favourite place to write?
I love a cosy coffee shop and a hot chocolate! I have spent a lot of time in coffee shops because of the constant inspiration. I would be lying if I didn’t say I love writing in my bed though – a duvet fort is a good place for typing away late into the night.
What words of encouragement can you give to our fellow aspiring authors and what are your future plans as a writer?
Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, or that the field is too competitive. Someone has to do the job! My future plans currently include more books that push the boundaries of emotional topics. I also want to write something fun that captures the messiness and chaotic energy of your early twenties.
Thank you Emily, for your time and precious tips! I would also like to thank Bookollective for organising such a great blog tour and, of course, for inviting me to be part of it.