Friday, October 5, 2012

Easy by Tammara Webber

This is also the first book of an informal New Adult reading project, just so everyone knows. Who better to check out this up-and-coming genre (no matter how ridiculous I think the argument for its distinction is sometimes) than a member of its target audience? Young female college student and all.

Oh, and a funny thing happened: the day I finished this book/wrote the review, Tammara Webber made a deal with Penguin for Easy and starting October 9, Penguin will sell the ebook. A paperback will be on sale next month.

Title: Easy
Author: Tammara Webber
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: May 25, 2012
Pages: 304 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

EasyA girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.


Things I learned from Easy:
Ways in which you should not victimize women include:
  • Sexually assaulting them
  • Saying they were asking for it
  • Ignoring her boundaries and acting like no means yes
  • Saying it's not a big deal they were raped because they weren't a virgin in the first place
  • Caring more about the damage it will do to the accused's reputation than what happened to the victim
  • Trying to convince a victim not to testify because of what it will do to the school's/fraternity's reputation
  • Having sex with them when they are drunk (because THAT IS RAPE, PEOPLE)
  • Blaming them for anything sexual abuse or assault they suffer
  • Probably many more things I'm forgetting because my arm started hurting from all my feminist solidarity fist-pumps
Ways in which you should victimize women include:
  • Calling them sluts/whores/skanks/hussies/etc. because she does something you or your friends don't like.
Wait, what?

Exactly. A novel hyped as the book women need to read okays slut shaming. Let that sink in.

This contradiction held throughout the novel is the biggest problem Easy has. As the lists show, this book carries a lot of heavy feminist themes that make absolutely valid points more people need rammed into their skulls. Most of these messages aren't terribly anvilicious and that makes it a great way to teach people. Most people will digest a subtle, personal approach more easily than an in-your-face approach. Slut shaming is never okay and is not empowering for women whether they're doing the name-calling or suffering it.

Other than that gigantic, book-breaking snafu, Easy has a lot going for it. Webber's writing is powerful and can wrench a wide range of emotions from readers. Smiling because Lucas and Jacqueline are so adorable, choking up because what Jacqueline suffers through after Buck nearly rapes her is so awful, and making my heart pound because the romance is pretty fantastic. Why can't more books pull such a wide range of emotions from me?
This novel and Jacqueline connected with me in an unexpected number of ways: as a fellow woman, as a college student, as a victim of sexual abuse (though of a different variety than Jacqueline's), and as someone who suffered with what happened to her for so long before she was finally able to tell someone. If Jacqueline and I weren't so similar and those parallels made it impossible for me not to see the good in this book, it would be down another half-star. As it is, Jcqueline's growth from a young woman afraid after her near-rape into a capable young woman who has found what--and who--she wants and no longer lets what happened to her hold her back is beautiful.

The secondary characters can sometimes be weak, but they usually have strong, memorable personalities as well; Erin serves largely in the supportive-roommate role, but she is so enjoyable as a character because she helps Jacqueline so much and delivers some of the best lines of the book. NUTSACK! Quite a few of the necessary lessons in this book are served on a silver platter to Jacqueline by her.

Lucas and Jacqueline's romance, while incredibly cute, is also somewhat typical in certain respects. I saw their couple dramas with the tutor thing and his mom coming a long ways away because it has been done in so many other novels. Kinda made me roll me eyes. Lucas also has a small creepy moment when he revealed he keeps a drawing of Jacqueline on the wall next to his bed so he can wake up to her every morning. This is only at the beginning of their relationship. Beyond that, he is a fantastic love interest and gets some pretty good character development of his own.

My interest in Webber's other books is high after this, but if she pulls the same sort of shenanigans with book-breaking contradictions, there will be hell to pay.

3.5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Blind Spot by Laura Elle