New Adult Contemporary Romance
The Goodreads blurb misses the mark on this one, reading a bit melodramatic. Easy is a shining example of what the New Adult genre can be, and very grounded and readable given potentially sensitive issues.
First off, props to the cover for actually reflecting the characters in the book. Easy is set in college, where Jacqueline has just been dumped by her high school sweetheart who admits he wants to play the field now that he's a fraternity superstar. He starts out like a real jerk, but his character is revealed to have some layers, which I found interesting.
Fair warning, the book begins with a sexual assault. What sets Easy apart is that the assault is not simply fodder for drama, this is the inciting event that is fully explored through the book. The perpetrator is a friend of Jacqueline's, and her ex-boyfriend's best friend. The secrets surrounding the assault, and how it later is viewed by Jacqueline's friends, the school, herself, and the boy who intervenes are the main drivers of the story. There are a dozen or more places this book could have veered into totally trope-y directions, but instead reveals a clever edge of storytelling that encourages discussion about sexual assault and rape culture without seeming like a lecture.
In reviews of this book, love interest Lucas is heralded as a fan favorite, and I can see why. He's a brooding hottie who is conflicted over his rescue of Jacqueline. He's mysterious but for legit reasons. He is an advocate for assault victims and volunteers time in self defense training (again, for legit reasons). While fighting his own past hurts, he is genuinely invested in Jacqueline's safety and well-being, while also just acting his age and being into her. Jacqueline's roommate is a great addition here, especially with her shifting views of what happened and the decisions she makes going forward.
I was particularly impressed by a scene with some sorority sisters going through how they would deal with the issue given the perpetrator is popular in the Greek system. The discussion the girls have is what we see every day online and in schools; how girls are blamed for "asking for it" by dressing too sexy, or exaggerating details, or other variants where disbelief that a guy so cool/nice/friendly could be capable of violence. It's a necessary discussion, and all it takes is one or two people to stand up for a victim to make a difference.
Easy is not a chore to read; the romance and the friendships keep the story moving despite some heavy material. Webber is a very capable writer with a great storytelling voice and that ability to take something that is difficult to talk about and spin it into a story that is both enjoyable and enlightening. This is one of those books I really hope gets in the hands of older teens and college aged adults, because it has something to say that is very much needed.
Stay tuned in May 2014 for the release of Breakable, the story told in Lucas' point of view.
Have you read Easy or a similar book that deals with these issues?