Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy
by Tammara Webber
May 25, 2012
316 pages
Source: Purchased

Synopsis
When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. 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, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem—their only interactions are through email.

Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees—hoping for more.

Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Author Recommendation: Mature Young Adults (language, drinking, sexual situations)

(taken from Goodreads.)

Opening Line

I had never noticed Lucas before that night. 

My Take On It

Easy originally captured my attention when I noticed it on a friends list on Goodreads. It's no secret that I love New Adult titles, stories that take place in the period that follows high school as a young adult begins to make their way into the world independently. I was not acquainted with author Tammara Webber, but I'm a sucker for books that take place in college, so I added it to my TBR list. Wow. What an unexpected surprise this book turned out to be! Filled with plenty of college- life nostalgia, Easy also takes a look at all sorts of relationships, both healthy and dysfunctional alike. In addition it deals with some big time issues, especially relevant to women, both young adult and older. And it features a really awesome relationship between two friends and roommates. In short, I loved this book. I tore through it at a breakneck pace and the characters of Jacqueline, Lucas, Landon, Erin, and Kennedy won't soon be forgotten.

Ok, so to give a bit more detail about the plot in Easy, Jacqueline, who has recently been unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend, is slowly emerging from her post breakup slump and trying to move forward. She's ditched the last 2 weeks of a class she shared with her ex, and missed her midterm. Determined not to fail the class, Jacqueline has plans to talk to her instructor and get back on track. But before she can do this, Jacqueline is assaulted and nearly raped as she leaves a frat party. Her attacker, a friend and frat brother of her ex, is stopped at the last moment by a mysterious stranger who tries to convince Jacqueline to report the incident to the police. Refusing, Jacqueline insists she is all right and that she just wants to go home and forget the whole thing ever happened. So this story basically details 1) Jacqueline trying to deal with the break up from her boyfriend and move on with her life and 2) Jacqueline dealing with the attempted rape and sexual assault at the hands of her ex's frat brother.

There are many things I loved about Easy but I think it's the authenticity of the characters that I found most impressive.  From page one, and the shocking opening scene, Jacqueline's actions and voice felt very real.  Aside from the attempted assault and rape, which is something I have thankfully never experienced,  I found the MC Jacqueline to be accessible and easy to relate to. I don't know about you guys, but I have been through some bad break ups. And I know all about those feelings of loss and hopelessness that Jacqueline has been dealing with since her longtime high school boyfriend Kennedy, whom she followed to college a year earlier, abruptly ended their relationship. I've experienced those feelings of wondering where to go from here and trying to figure out who you are if you aren't part of a couple anymore. I really loved watching Jacqueline start out as this lost, heartbroken girl, who suffered a horrific attack on top of everything, and emerge as a young woman determined to move forward and seek out a life beyond the confines of a damaged romantic relationship.

But there are other fantastic characters in Easy. The character of Lucas, the boy who rescued Jacqueline the night she was attacked is obviously one of them. Lucas comes off as very mysterious in the beginning. He's tattooed and pierced and rides a motorcycle so automatically I assumed he was of the bad boy persuasion. But looks can be deceiving and it was awesome to learn who he really was as the story progressed.

Two characters that I really enjoyed more than I originally expected were Benji, Jacqueline's classmate and her roommate Erin. Both provided ample comic relief but Erin turned out to be this amazing force in Jacqueline's life. She stood by her friend through the break up but was also adamant about getting Jacqueline back out there and not letting her wallow for too long. And when Erin finds out about Jacqueline's assault she transforms into this awesome champion of women! She enrolls Jacqueline and herself in a self defense class and she stands up to the fraternity system when it appears that the college isn't going to get involved after another girl is attacked. Erin ROCKS. Shoot, she even dumps her OWN boyfriend when he is less than sympathetic and doesn't defend Jacqueline or her allegations. Erin definitely ranks high on my list of best book BFF's. 

There are some great elements at play in Easy, and the romantic element is definitely one of them. And yeah, it would seem like from the summary above that there is a major love triangle (GROAN) going on. But really there isn't, and that is made apparent before even the half way point of the book. 

So you can see from the little disclaimer at the end of the summary that Easy is definitely written for the more mature end of the YA spectrum. Lucas and Jacqueline have AMAZING chemistry, and yes, there are sexual situations. Here is what Dear Author had to say, and it sums it up better than I could:

"In college terms, everything up to third base is described in some detail but the home plate is fade to black."

Yes, Jacqueline and Lucas do go there, and yes, it is HOT and steamy (in case you were wondering:) But it's also written well and, even better, I found their relationship to be very sex positive. It develops gradually and in a healthy way. There was no guilt, no pressure, both Jacqueline and Lucas thought it through and were responsible and mature about it. And after her dysfunctional relationship with Kennedy, it made my heart all sorts of happy to watch her and Lucas get it right. In my opinion this is the way to approach sex in a YA novel, it sends a positive message: that when you are ready, when you are mature enough to handle the responsibility, a healthy sexual relationship is a good thing. I hope that makes sense...Anyway, I appreciate the way it was written and I'd like to see more of this is YA and New Adult fiction. 

It could have been easy (no pun intended) to let this book turn into a flowery romance with a damsel in distress protagonist being rescued by the big, strong hero, yet Easy doesn't fall into this category. Whether it is Jacqueline taking back control of her life and getting her act together following her break up with Kennedy; or Erin and Jacqueline enrolling in a self defense class; or Jacqueline finally coming forward and reporting her assault; or Erin's sorority standing their ground and not tolerating any B.S. when another girl is attacked, Easy is full of tons of GIRL POWER moments which I LOVE. Thank you Tammara Webber for this.  It is SO important for women, young and old, to always value themselves, know their worth and stand up for themselves and each other. As Erin famously puts it:

"Sisters in solidarity and all that shit."

Aside from the obvious message that you should always report a sexual assault, I would love to see young woman read this book and walk away from it with the message, that no! you don't have to change who you are for a guy, and no, you don't have to mold your life around his to be happy. But if you lose sight of that, you can get back up on your feet, learn from it and move forward, wiser.  

I loved this book. I found it to be not only romantic and sexy as HELL but very empowering as well. I think it has a really positive, uplifting message written into the text. If you are a fan of contemporaries, a fan of romance, a fan of strong friendships, a fan of humorous dialogue, a fan of New Adult or college settings, and like books that send messages of "sisters in solidarity and all that shit" (LOVE:) I really think you will enjoy Easy. Don't just sit there, go pick it up and see for yourself.

4.5/5 Stars

Cover Thoughts

I like the image of the girl and guy embracing, but that guy is SO not my vision of Lucas. Then, I discovered the author's Facebook page. She has a photo gallery of drool-worthy images of Lucas that are fun to ogle:)

Check out Tammara Webber's website

Check out some other reviews of Easy

Nocturnal Book Reviews
Dear Author
World of Books





13 comments:

  1. Is this YA? It sounds really interesting. And, yes, it's great to read books that show characters who value themselves and stand up for themselves.

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    1. It's self published but it seems to fall into the YA/ New Adult realm. It's definitely got some racy scenes, so it's older YA for sure. I loooved it:)

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  2. Aww, Heather, I am SO glad, you loved this book just as much as I did! our thoughts are pretty much the same! Tammara delivered a beautiful message which is so often omited from YA. Fabulous review!

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    1. Yes! I just love New adult books and college settings in general. I think the writing in this book was seamless. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the other Webber book you are reading, Karina:)

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  3. (SPOILER) Great review! I loved this too. The only thing I didn't make sense to me is why Lucas didn't suggest that Jacqueline attend a self-defense class, instead of waiting for her to show up at it. Especially, in light of his history.

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    1. Yeah, I didn't really think of that Lauren. I LOVED the inclusion of those self defense classes, I think I actually learned a couple of moves in the process:)

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  4. This was the first book of Tammara's that I've read and it definitely won't be my last! I LOVED this book! So good! I also really liked the secondary characters, Erin & Benji. I wish I had time for re-reads because this is one I'd like to read again. Maybe one day... :-)
    Great review Heather!

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    1. I just ordered Between the Lines, another YA book by Webber, after Karina at Nocturnal Reviews recommended it. It was only $2.99 at the Kindle store, you might want to check it out Amber!

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  5. Beautiful review! LOVE IT. This sounds like a realistic and gritty read. When I read that paragraph devoted about Erin and you said at the end, "Erin definitely ranks high on my list of best book BFF's.", I was just nodding my head like YES. YES, this is one awesome, awesome girl. I love her. In that same paragraph when you said, "...Easy is full of tons of GIRL POWER moments.." I was like, "GIRL to the POWER!" This is such an AWESOME example of empowerment. Sorry for the fangirling but I really, really need this book. NOW!!!!! Thank you for this articulate review:)

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    1. Thank you, Zoe, it's nice to meet you:) I am all about GIRL POWER in the books I read. Especially YA and New Adult, I think it's so important to pass that message on:) I'll swing by and check out your blog too:)

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  6. Really, really looking forward to this one -- so glad you enjoyed it! I've heard nothing but wonderful things. So hoping that this genre of "new adult" takes off. I need more of that. :)

    Irene Jennings of San Pedro Storage

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    1. This was one of the first "New Adult" books I read and it is still one of my favorite examples:)

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  7. I liked this book. There's a good mix of tragedy, humor, tense emotions and redemption. If you're looking for a summer read this is a great one.

    Dwayne Johnston (Zespri)

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