Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Someone Else's Love Story (4)

This is my second book by Joshilyn Jackson. And I devoured it just as quickly as the first one. I loved it. I thought it was beautiful and I got very little sleep on two different nights because I couldn’t put it down. The second I decided to just finish the damn thing so I could start sleeping again.

If you ask, "If you love it so much, why did you give it a 4 and not a 5?" It's because I love a lot of things. Like pizza. But pizza is not a 5-star food. This book did not change my life, and I probably won't read it 18 million times, so it gets a 4. You could say I throw the word "love" around a lot. 

Our story starts with Shandi, who is 21 and raising her three-year-old son, father unkown. Her best friend Walcott helps her in this endeavor and everything else ever, including moving to Atlanta to live in her father’s second condo so she can be nearer school and put her son, who is a certifiable genius, into a more advanced preschool.

On the way they stop for gas, Shandi and her son Natty go inside for snacks, and they end up in the middle of an armed robbery. And this hunky guy, William Ashe, gets in between the gunman and Shandi’s son. So, of course, she falls in love with him, who wouldn’t?

If that doesn’t sound like your kind of book, it probably isn’t, and you can feel free to join in my conversation that is chock full of spoilers. If you mind Shandi’s love interest being nicknamed “the great god Thor,” then this book is probably not for you. But it’s cute and exciting and talks about all manner of love: friendship, family, romantic, lust, love for child, love for parents, ect.

I loved this book and it made me feel really uncomfortable. So you can keep reading if you want to but there major, major, major spoiler alerts ahead if you do. But I want to talk about my feelings, I need to share them with someone and I don’t know anyone who’s read the book. Now, I’m probably reading way more than I need to into this novel. I completely understand and accept that. But two things bugged me:

Spoiler #1 (less major spoiler) Shandi’s best friend is Walcott. William’s best friend is Paula. For a second I thought this was going to be a breath of fresh air where guys and girls could be friends and sometimes sleep together and not be in love with each other. Though I contest that once sex is involved it’s probably going to get messy. And I do pretty much believe in the When Harry Met Sally line that guys and girls can’t just be friends. One of them is, at some point, going to fall for the other. But I really, really wanted this book to not go there because I’m really over that plot line and for awhile it seemed like it wasn’t going to go there. And I hate the idea of “oh my god, suddenly I realize I’m in love with him! I’ve always been in love with him!” And that’s probably just a personal problem I have because I don’t think that’s how love works, I think that’s how stories work, and I think it’s a lazy plot device unless you have a crime TV show that needs it to keep people interested (a la Bones. Mostly I just really loved Bones). I won't tell you who likes who though, so maybe this isn't that much of a spoiler. And I will say that Joshilyn turns the best-friends-in-love plot time around a few times in the book, so I could consider that she is exploring the idea. The very, very end part is definitely cheesy. 

Spoiler #2 (Basically going to ruin the entire plot of the book. Stop reading now. You've been warned.) So here’s the deal about Shandi’s son, who she loves with all of her heart. He is the product of her getting raped at a party. This is something she has repressed within herself and only actually admits it when he is three years old and she meets William Ashe, who is sitting between a loaded gun and her son. And on the one hand, ok, you decide you want to keep your pregnancy for whatever reason and you don’t want to think about how you got him because you want to love him. Ok. But it felt kind of preachy that she decided to keep it. Moving on.

So Will ends up being a genius scientist. Who has Asperger’s, so I guess that is sort of brought into the conversation as well? And Shandi’s mom is very Catholic and her dad is very Jewish so we're talking about what religion does to family relationships. And small-town Wilcott has two moms, because they are in love. So what I'm saying is: Joshilyn is all over the place about what she’s saying in this book. So there’s that. I kind of just wanted to ask what exactly she was trying to say about everything in the entire world. It felt unfocused. 

Back to the baby daddy. Genius but not quite socially adept Will uses genetics and they figure out who the dad is. The guy that raped her when she was drugged. He has some form of Asperger’s as well, and was trying to make friends by joining a frat and chugged way too much beer and was not the one who drugged Shandi but she mistook him for Walcott, who she was in love with for that moment, and the had sex in the backyard. Then he got sick and passed out in the bushes, so that’s why Walcott found her all by herself, half naked, in the backyard. But he’s actually a really sweet guy who just thought that Shandi liked him and wanted to have sex with him and he was really drunk so he didn’t know that she was drugged.

So, basically, I’m irked that while there are so many conversations about date rape and guys not really getting the blame and girls getting slut shamed for being raped and this book is like well sometimes everyone’s to blame. Or something. And while it’s super sweet to think that he’s not a villain and he’s a normal guy who’s misunderstood, but I just don’t think the world is that easy of a place. Maybe I just like to live in a feminist part of the internet and don't want to think that a guy ever has an excuse if he rapes a girl. Ever. We don't even get to find out who drugged her and is really the bad guy so I have no one to channel my hatred at. 

This was a really long rant. Have a unicorn.
I like that this book made me think about things and my views on things. I liked this book. I don't necessarily agree with much of it, but it was a fun read. 

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