When a book opens with a woman mourning the loss of her baby and blaming the tragedy on her partner’s aggression, you know you are in for a heartbreaking and disturbing narrative. In this, Her Demise does not disappoint.
Telling the story of Sariah, a beautiful, sweet, loving young woman, and Preston, a man who was deeply hurt by a former girlfriend (and who then hurt someone else in return), Uddin does a terrifyingly excellent job of depicting an abusive relationship. Everything starts out wonderfully. Preston is too good to be true, and Sariah falls hard. Gradually, he becomes increasingly jealous of her attentions and her time. Slowly, this jealousy turns to violence, and pushes turn into punches that turn into a constant cycle of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
Uddin goes beyond just describing this relationship; she takes us inside the minds of its partners. Sariah loves Preston and is always blaming herself for his attacks. She wants only to please him. Even more harrowing is Preston who is controlling, angry, and incapable of blaming himself for his own actions. Their friends and family members see the signs but choose to ignore reality, even after Sariah loses her child. This is a brutally honest telling of a story that is unfortunately all-too-real.
That is the book’s biggest flaw. Uddin is a talented writer, and this, combined with the subject matter, makes the book extremely difficult to read. There are pages upon pages of fights, beatings, and sexual attacks. There are numerous occurrences of Preston blaming Sariah for making him hit her and of him feeling proud that he is in control. Sariah’s pain and insecurities permeate every page. Watching this story unfold is like watching a particularly gruesome train wreck that you are powerless to stop. Through the cringing and the crying, I struggled through in hopes of seeing Sariah free herself from her tormentor.
In the end, I am glad that this book exists. Domestic abuse is a horrible problem that happens all the time, and anything that makes it more visible is important. That said, I wish I had not read it.
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