The Build-Up Season
The Build-Up Season should be mandatory reading for every young person before they enter a relationship. Megan Jacobson’s narrative of domestic violence is raw, unapologetic and frighteningly realistic.
The novel’s protagonist Ily Piper is all out of love having witnessed domestic abuse at the hands of her father. However, it isn’t too long before our protagonist finds herself in an impossible situation and from here she begins to gain perspective.
Jacobson doesn’t shy away from the abuser’s manipulative behaviours, it is necessary considering how jealousy and passion is so often romanticized and excused in our society as acts of true love. Unlike our protagonist Ily, we need to love ourselves more than we love anybody else.
The novel hit me hard because at one point in my life I was Ily Piper. I was in a relationship where I justified unacceptable and violent behaviours. I was no more or less intelligent or capable or strong than I am today but I was trapped in an abusive relationship. The novel was like reading a chapter of my own life. What I’ve learnt is that no one’s tragic past or story of woe can excuse violent, controlling or manipulative behaviours. Ever.
What we do need to do is talk about it. We tell ourselves that intelligent, capable women are not the ones who find themselves in these relationships. However, any one of us can find ourselves in a violent or abusive relationship because these relationships are the ones that take us by surprise. People are complex, and those who control and manipulate are also often charming, and funny and loving, but it’s not enough. It’s nowhere near enough.
In the novel, Jacobson states that we should not judge a person by how they act when they are in a good place, but judge them by how they respond when everything is going wrong.
A beautiful and gritty book with a lively and flawed character, reflecting so many of our own experiences.
I love literature because I believe it has the power to change the world. The novel The Build-Up Season is definitely one of those stories.