✶ Summary ✶
Loving Danny follows 18 year old Naomi during her gap year. All of her friends are away traveling or at university while she lives with her parents and works. One day on the bus ride home, she meets Danny. When she gets off the bus, he chases after her to return her phone she left. He also gives her a flyer for a gig his band is playing later that week. She is undecided if she should go until she finds that Danny put his number into her phone. She goes to the gig and brings her sister. They love the band Danny is in, The Wonderfulls. Naomi chickens out and wants to leave without talking to him, but Danny sees her and talks to her. He asks her out for the following night. They get drinks and go to dinner after and have a great time. A couple days later they go on a picnic he planned. After this, they begin dating. Their relationship seems cute and nearly perfect. There are flaws here and there, but they’re good together. Until Naomi’s friend comes home one weekend, and Naomi wants to change plans she has with Danny so he can meet her friend. Danny turns this into an argument and doesn’t meet her friend. Now her weekend with her friend is tainted, and she leaves it believing she’s grown apart from the friend and wants to make up with Danny. She finds a letter outside her house that he had written to her, breaking up with her because he believes he’s bad for her. He also tells her he loves her in this letter. She runs to his house and questions why he’d break up with her and tell her he loves her in the same letter. She tells him she loves him, and they get back together. They continue dating, and eventually her parents confront her about their relationship. They knew Danny and liked him until they found out that Naomi was consistently late to work and calling out because of him. They want her to break up with him, and they get into a big fight. Naomi leaves and goes to stay with Danny. At first, it’s perfect. But slowly she’s realizing there are flaws to Danny. Naomi’s mother asks to speak to her and tells her the story of her first love as a cautionary tale. Naomi tells her she’ll think about it but goes back to Danny’s house to find him bleeding on his bedroom floor because he cut himself. He then tells her he has a history of this. Naomi is unsure how to help him. She decides to go home and have some time to think. They fight about this and don’t speak for three weeks. She finds out he kissed her sister at a party and goes to his house to confront him about it. He tries to lie about it, and they break up. She starts to find herself again and begins talking to her friends again. After two weeks, she gets a call from his bandmate. Danny was in the hospital from overdosing and cutting himself. She goes to visit him and finds out he carved her initial (of the nickname he called her, Omi) into his arm to show how much he loves her. She leaves and runs into his mother who tells her he has a long history of attention-seeking behavior, self-harm, and other things he never told her. His mother says she will be sending him to a private clinic to receive treatment. Naomi goes back to Danny’s room and makes it clear that they are over and tells him she doesn’t love him in hopes it’ll help him. The book ends with an epilogue where time had passed and Naomi was happy, but she still thought about him and wondered how he was. She will never forget him or their relationship.
✶ Non-toxicity ✶
This book covers both young love and mental illness very well. At first, Danny seems perfect. They have a good meet-cute, he has eyes only for her, he looks out for her. He plans special dates and gives her special gifts. But he is a bad influence on her. It’s his idea for her to call out of work to spend time with him. He tries to convince her to give up the career she’s always wanted and go to school, to pursue photography, a light hobby of hers. He has a past he lies about. Naomi finds the scars on his arm early on, and he tells her they’re from an accident when he was young. She finds fresh marks, and he says they’re from an accident with band equipment. He acts like a different person around her parents and gets mad when she comments on it, pointing out he’s doing it so they’d like him. He doesn’t want her to have friends and gets mad when she talks about them. He influences her to stop speaking to her friends. When Naomi tells him about the fight with her parents, he says cruel things about them. He kissed her sister and tried to accuse her sister of lying about it. When she visits him in the hospital, he tells her she’s the most important thing in his life and tries to win her back, showing her his arm as proof of his love. When she goes back to end things for good, he tries to guilt her into staying with him. Most of this behavior is probably his mental illness, which the book never actually identifies, but he has a history of hurting himself when the people in his life aren’t paying attention to him. From cutting to pills to slamming his hand in a door. It gets worse when things in his life aren’t going well (the fresh cuts were after a record deal didn’t go through for his band). This book shows all sides of his illness and what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone with mental illness. It may look like Naomi is abandoning him, but she realizes she isn’t equipped to help him and that her relationship with him is not good for her. She looks out for herself and wishes him well. She is forever changed by her relationship with him, but she is happy after leaving it. This is also her first serious relationship. This book shows that young love can change you and is impactful but doesn’t always last forever. It’s a realistic view of young love and mental illness, a view not many YA books have.
✶ Quotes ✶
“Like I told you,” Danny spat. “She’s a cold bitch.” [about his mother] The rage behind his words was chilling; I had never felt hate like that, certainly not for my mother. I thought, She must really have hurt him. What on earth did she do? I was suddenly aware how little I knew about Danny’s past, that he lived twenty whole years before he met me. It made me feel uneasy.
The next few months were blissful. Danny and I spent as much time together as we could. [...] Every minute that I spent with Danny made me fall in love with him a little more. [...] I could go on and on. I could probably fill a whole book with lists of what I liked about Danny.
I considered the offer. On the one hand, I welcomed the idea of some space from Danny so I could get my head straight, but on the other, I was frightened of how he would react and what he might do. I knew he saw my parents as a threat and I didn’t want to risk angering him. And then there was the question of whether it was safe to leave him alone.
I don’t know whether it was arrogance or delusion, but he would not accept it. “You’re seriously giving up on us?” he asked, with a strange, guttural laugh that unnerved me. “Yes, Danny,” I said. But I wasn’t “giving up” - that made it sound so easy. I was fighting every instinct and feeling that I possessed, trying to do what I thought was right. “What - that’s it? Finito? You’re going to walk out on me when I’m in the hospital?” He was playing the guilt card. Of course he was - I should have anticipated it.

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