White Fur by Jardine Libaire was different. And I say that in really the best way possible. Or in a kind of a good way. It’s complicated.
Let’s transport ourselves back to June of this year. While it wasn’t all that long ago, it seems ages ago. Summer was just starting then. Fall is just starting now. My days and nights were filled with thinking of new activities to keep the kiddos busy. Now, school. I get a little more time to focus on my own stuff.
Anyways, summer is a huge reading time for me, even more so than my normal “let’s just read all the time” thing. White Fur was a June selection of The Book of the Month Club, which I do like because I either get books I’m super excited about for a discount, or I get to read books I might not pick myself. That last one definitely applies here.
White Fur really peaked my interest because it sounded like a love story, and as we have established in this blog, I can be a sucker for a love story.
And it was, but it was….different. Let me explain. But first, to give you some background.
From the Publisher:
When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school. Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. The attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.
The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love but also for their lives
White Fur is a love story. But its not a magical fuzzy feeling love story when you are rooting for the two crazy kids to make it because they are so in love and adorable. Because Elise and Jamie, the hero and heroine in the story, they are messed up. And their relationship isn’t romantic, it’s downright dysfunctional and co-dependent.
So I’m trying to think about what makes this one so much more disturbing than others. Usually these love stories occur between a rich person and a person who grew up very poor. Check. Usually there are people (friends, family) on the outside who are actively trying to break the couple up. Check. Usually the couple is so blinded by love that they don’t care about what people say. Kinda check. The love story ends badly, many times tragically. Got you! I’m not actually going to say one way or the other. No spoilers here!
I think the main thing is that I really did not like Elise. I was rooting for the people on Jamie’s side who were trying to break them up. But at the same time, I think that I was brushing over the dysfunction in Jamie’s life. Kind of like, oh, poor little rich boy. I didn’t think his issues were that valid or ran very deep. In retrospect, he may have been just as messed up as Elise, if not more so.
So what we have here is a very honest story of two people who somehow fall in love after just have shit pasts. And together they just kind of muddle through. When I finished the book, I just felt strange. Maybe reflective? I’m not sure.
Libaire does a great job writing these characters and their complexities. Although I really still don’t know how I feel about this one, and I finished it a month ago, parts were unsettling and have stuck with me. And in the end, isn’t that what we hope to get from a book? New topics to ponder, new experiences to live through others eyes?
If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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