Jacqueline is kicking herself for making the exact mistake her mother told her she would. She up and followed her boyfriend to state college rather than attending a prestigious music conservatory to pursue her career as a concert bassist. It's just that she and Kennedy had been together for over three years. Who would have thought they'd get a mere handful of weeks into their freshman year before he dropped her like a hot potato in the name of sowing his wild oats? Not Jacqueline, that's who. But it happens. And now she's forced to keep going through the motions, while she figures out what in the world she's supposed to do at this school she doesn't belong in, in a life she doesn't recognize. It starts with changing her name back to what it was before Kennedy got his smarmy hands on it. It continues with a subtle shift in seats in the econ class she shares with her ex, so she won't have to look him in the face and see how quickly he moved on. It ramps up with a series of emails exchanged with her geeky econ tutor and a series of chance meetings with a mysterious boy she encountered one black night under the blackest of circumstances. And it catches fire with enrolling in a self-defense class with her roommate to take back what others would claim as theirs. Each individual shift doesn't amount to much, but combined this series of decisions changes her life.
Easy starts out simply, luring you into the false notion that it's a simple book about predictable people. If you're reading the first few pages and wondering, know that it all unfolds in good time. And as it unfolds, it refuses to pull its punches. I found the way it dealt with issues of empowerment and discernment wholly engrossing. Ms. Webber states in her acknowledgments:
I couldn't have written Easy without the help of my husband, Paul. The creation of good fiction begins with raw, honest emotions--whether the author is penning a story about a mouse who wants dessert, or a sprawling epic of Tsarist Russia. The subjects touched on in Easy come with an even deeper obligation to remain true to those emotions. Paul encouraged me constantly to fearlessly portray my love of hidden connections, and my belief that our close relationships with family, friends and lovers--any and all of these, if we're lucky--are capable of healing the traumas all of us experience in our lives.It took no great effort to empathize with Jacqueline's trauma and with her growing sense that everything bad (and it gets pretty bad) happening in her life now dates back to that one bad decision. The litany of regrets drummed through my head along with hers: if only her vision had been clearer, if only she hadn't walked alone to her car that night, if only . . . if only. But the beauty of this book is that it's tightly centered on Jacqueline's forward trajectory, on not only her recovery and resiliency, but on the way she is able to put her knowledge and experience to good use and make a difference in the lives of others. She is both the beneficiary and the giver of unexpected kindnesses in her personal and academic lives. Which leads me to Landon and Lucas. These two boys she cautiously becomes friends with are just high, high points in this incredibly enjoyable novel. They are kind. They lift as opposed to stifle. They are forces for good in one girl's life. And it should probably be mentioned here that one of the two's interactions with Jacqueline will set your heart to racing. And I mean racing. Tammara Webber really strikes a lovely balance between the development of the romance and Jacqueline's personal path toward independence. I was incredibly satisfied with the ending, and I will definitely be back for more. Because this book? It's just so easy to love.
Highly recommended, especially for fans of Jessica Park's Flat-out Love, Jennifer Echols' Going Too Far, all things new adult, and just substantial, swoony contemporaries in general.
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