Thursday, January 8, 2015

Easy by Tammara Webber

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.

My Thoughts:
Let me start this review by telling a story:

I have a friend. She told me about her high school boyfriend, with whom she was sexually active. She said about their first time, "We had sex but I didn't want it to happen." Do you understand what means, dear review-reader? She didn't want to have sex with him. But it happened. My friend was raped. And she didn't even realize that it was rape until 15 years after it happened. She decided that since they'd already had sex, she may as well stay with him and keep doing it since she was "ruined" anyway. She guilted herself into dating this guy for two years. This rapist. There's a lot more I could say about this but I'll leave it there.

After hearing her story I've made it a mission to learn as much as I can about the psychological effects of teenage sex and rape for both women and men. Sadly, my friend's story is not unique. There are so many young girls who are taken advantage of who don't realize that what happened wasn't their fault. They take the blame onto themselves saying, "We had sex" instead of "He raped me", and decide that since they're not a virgin anymore, they may as well keep having sex with him or with others. It's heartbreaking for me to think about all these girls (and there are a lot of them) who take on this defeatist attitude. 

I wish they had read a book like this.

Easy is, essentially, a book about rape. As an adult who takes the time to research this subject, I didn't learn much from it. If I'd read it as a teenager, though, it would have so informative and helpful as to be invaluable. 

The opening scene is an attempted rape. Honestly I almost put the book down after I read that first chapter. Another boy comes along and saves the girl from her attacker. I was actually really worried that the attempted rape scene would just be a plot device to create a hero in the minds of swoony girls. It wasn't. Well, kind of, it was, but mostly it set the rest of the book up to talk about rape. And it didn't do it in a lecture-y way at all. It just felt like a natural part of the story. This book pretty much provides a how-to step-by-step guide on what to do to avoid rape and how to handle it if you are a victim of it. But it's not preachy. And the reactions of the people in this book are so real and natural. Who wants to report being raped??? It's horrible! And to have to relive it in order to report it is abhorrent to any victim. Webber addresses this. She takes the subject very seriously. There's a scene where a group of sorority girls are talking about an alleged rape and I wanted to stand up and cheer. I may have teared up a little bit. We women need to band together and support each other.

Based solely on the way Tammara Webber addresses this serious issue and could potentially help, educate and empower girls and women I would give this book five stars, no problem.

But there's other stuff.

I didn't think the writing was all that stellar. Dialog wasn't always believable, especially the guys who would over-explain and dump their thoughts in a monolog. There were a lot of reiterated thoughts: "Right now I would have been with Kennedy. If he hadn't broken up with me, that is." Repeat that Idea about 50 times in the first five chapters and you'll generally feel my pain. Webber DROPS HINTS about as well as my dad QUIETLY SNORES. Which is to say: Not all that well. The book could have used a good edit. Or three.

The characters were basically flat. I actually really liked that Jacqueline, our protagonist, was scared and timid about her scary experience. It was real. Yeah, it's fun to read stories about badass girls who don't take crap from anyone and kick guys' butts like it's second nature. But Jacqueline was powerless against her assailant and scared to do anything about it. Just like a normal girl would have been. That said, Jacqueline does actually act a bit out of character for a girl recovering from an assault. A few days afterward she's suddenly very willing to jump into bed with a new guy and obsessively thinks about him and her ex-boyfriend? Wouldn't you be wary of any guy a few days after an attempted sexual assault? And then the second time an almost-rape happens (the SECOND time!! With the same assailant!!), Jacqueline still doesn't report anything. Infuriating.

Lucas, our bad boy new crush, basically admits to stalking Jacqueline before they even met. Creepy. But she somehow thinks that's romantic. And he's supposed to have had a whole lot of one-night stands but given his tragic (I mean, disturbing) past, I find that really unbelievable. I would think he'd be afraid of sex, to be honest. Or at least wary of it. In any case I doubt he'd be quite so experienced as the book seemed to make him. And then there's all the stereotypical bad boy stuff: lip ring, tattoos, motorcycle, long hair, etc. 
There were a lot of graphic love scenes. The scenes were between two consenting parties who cared for each other, but they were there. I don't feel like love scenes this vivid should be in YA literature (though this is technically New Adult literature). Granted, these characters were in college and were over the age of 18. So, for that reason, I would only really recommend this book to girls over the age of 18. Even though there's so much in here that a teenage girl could learn.

I wish a book existed that taught girls the same lessons as mentioned above without all the gratuitous sex scenes. Because everyone should learn about this. To protect themselves.

Sexual Content: Heavy
Language: Moderate (some big, bad words, but not too often)
Violence: Moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate

1 comment:

  1. If you're looking for a book which is centered around the same issue as EASY yet does not contain sex scenes, consider THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney.
    This title is set in a boarding school and involves a club, called The Mockingbirds, which administers justice for students whose grievances would never be properly addressed by the administration.
    It involves a really sweet romance and some meaningful female friendships.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it.