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Bad/Tender is a subversion of the common trope that romanticises unhealthy relationships, the anti Fifty Shades of Grey. A coming-of-age literary novel for millennials following a young woman's journey through an abusive relationship, it touches upon the issues of consent, rape, mental illness, immigration, social and professional uncertainty and survival.
Chiara is a twenty-something Italian blogger graduating from a prestigious London university, a small-town over-achiever with a morbid obsession for death she feeds through a gory Instagram account. Determined to build her career in one summer, she watches her life, dreams and friendships shatter before her eyes as all her friends leave town after graduation.
During a night out, Chiara meets L, a charming bartender who loses his head for her after a night of steamy sex. As the two become a couple L, a dysfunctional thirty-something masquerading as a dandy, manipulates Chiara into accepting his abusive ways.
Having lost of all of her friends to post-university migration, Chiara is initially pleased by and excited about L's apparent obsession with her and his 'bad boy' attitude. However, as L starts to show the recognisable traits, deep emotional flaws and elements of personality disorder of the classic domestic abuser, Chiara struggles to place herself and her dreams of success in the reality of the abused victim. Ashamed by her actions, Chiara starts closing in on herself, ashamed yet unable to leave.
Focusing on the rollercoaster of emotions in L and Chiara's relationship, Bad/Tender is a novel most women will be able to relate to in the age of #MeToo. Through the graphic and at times repulsive relationship between the two main characters, Bad/Tender questions the ideals and idols of our entertainment-saturated society focusing on the 'bad boy', an unrealistic blend of sleaze and tenderness, to show that there is nothing glamorous in the sadly wide-spread trend of the abusive partner.
Bad/Tender is a novel for uncertain times, where mental illness is discussed openly and an extra 'othering' factor is brought by the main character's upbringing and in her status as an immigrant. The novel will resonate with millennials crumbling over the pressure of their own ambition.
Bad/Tender is a story rooted deep in the London nightlife scene, made of charming 'mixologists', foodie bloggers and rivers of alcohol. Narrated in action by Chiara, it is a novel about the crippling effects of anxiety and depression, told by a narrator who has derived her interests and attitude from entertainment.