Review: Easy by Tammara Webber
A 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.
I have conflicted thoughts about EASY. On the one hand, it didn’t make quite the impression on me I was expecting from all the hype. On the other hand, I read it straight through, very much wanting to find out what happened.
Also: IT’S NEW ADULT. I love New Adult because I happen to be one. This is a book set on a college campus dealing with the kinds of issues college-aged kids deal with: rape, relationships, sex, careers, classes, etc. The college world was believable and fun to read about. The heart of the subject matter is sexual assault, and I have to say that Webber explores this issue with a pretty deft hand.
The first scene is Jacqueline escaping a near-rape. It’s a powerful way to open a book, and yet it didn’t impact me like it should. I think the problem was Jacqueline. It took me a long time to connect to her, and I never felt her as deeply as most heroines. I felt like there was a bit of distance between her and me. I didn’t feel her trauma. Most of her anxiety in the ensuing pages is about her ex-boyfriend, her economics class, and figuring out the mystery of Lucas, the guy who saved her from Buck the would-be-rapist.
Jacqueline repeatedly says her passion is music, and talks about how she tutors local middle school students to play the upright bass. But we never see a scene of her playing or tutoring. I never believed she was a musician; it didn’t affect the way she saw things at all.
It took me a while to grow into Jacqueline, but by the end I started to get to know her. A little late, but the book really improved as I read. Some of the characters really popped, like Erin the roommate. She was the best. Lucas was a little too perfect: he draws, he’s a taekwondo master, he’s a straight A student, SPOILER THAT WASN’T A SURPRISE an economics tutor, handyman, barista, tattooed soulful man with a tortured past. Of course, he was swoon-worthy. Their flirting was so much fun. I actually loved that he lied to her, and that they actually did have arguments. I loved the way he supports Jacqueline and cares for her. The love scenes (for sure mature content) were wonderful and made me weak at the knees. Despite my issues with their characters, I loved their romance.
Oh, I so don’t want to sound this negative. I really didn’t hate it, guys. It has a powerful message about women taking control of their lives and not becoming victims. It just got to a slow start for me. A lot of obsessing over a useless ex-boyfriend and not failing econ class. Jacqueline frequently says she’s trying to forget the assault, but I don’t get the impression she’s really struggling with it. She struggles more with not thinking about Lucas or her ex. Once the book really started dealing with the trauma of sexual assault, I liked it a lot more. Jacqueline begins to take more control. She learns self-defense and how to stand up for herself. There are points that made me want to cheer and shout “GIRL POWER!”
But then there’s also a scene where a male character calls a young woman an “alcoholic skank” to her face and it is played as a victory. It was just one moment in a book otherwise filled with good messages, but it hit me wrong. In a book that taught how horrible it is to put blame on rape victims, to claim they were asking for it, to call them sluts, it was just so weird to me that the author would think it appropriate to use a derogative sexual term for laughs.
I also thought the other girls on Jacqueline’s floor were quick to judge when they thought she was hooking up with two different guys. This is college. That is hardly a shocking thing. Nobody on my floor sophomore year would have blinked if someone hooked up with two different people in two weeks. The less-than-stellar reactions of the Greeks to the rape claims were realistic, however. I enjoyed the way Webber portrayed all the different ways people think of rape.
But like I said, the latter half of the book really picks up. There’s action and heartbreak. We get to know the characters better. A scene where a teacher basically monologues all of Lucas’ background is a little convenient, but it’s certainly a powerful story. And like I said, the romance. It is steamy. It is beautiful. It made me fan my myself and reach for the cold water.
This book takes a very healthy view of female sexuality and at times it was just fun to read. There are also resources for sexual assault victims at the back of the book, which I liked. This book felt supportive. It was trying to reach out to girls who feel like their voices have been silenced, and that's always worthy.
In the end, I liked it. It’s well-written, intelligent, and has a very worthy subject matter. It’s no Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, which will stick with you for the rest of your life, but I think it’s worth a read. I won't be thinking about it tomorrow, and I’m not sure it deserves all the hype it’s gotten, but it may be just me.