{Review} Easy by Tammara Webber

{Review} Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber

(Ignore the icky cover—this one’s worth reading.)

College was probably the time in my life that most influenced the sort of person I am as a “real adult.” (Note: Adulthood is highly overrated.) It’s where my mind was opened about the world beyond the U.S., where I discovered that Women’s Studies was a legit major and where I met my super-cute husband who also knows how to fix stuff around the house. 

Yet college remains an elusive setting in fiction.

Yes, it appears in high-brow literary fiction on occasion, but that’s not usually my wheelhouse. Young adult fiction is limited to high school settings and most adult fiction ignores this formative and interesting time. The only book I can think of in recent memory set in college is Charmed Thirds/Jessica Darling #3, which I dearly love. Oh, and Jennifer Echols’ Love Story, which was just an okay read for me. So, when Jane at Dear Author recommended Tammara Webber’s Easy as a good read set in college, I clicked “Buy Now” without even downloading a sample. 

Easy is set in a southern state college and follows Jacqueline through the first semester of her sophomore year. She’s at the state school despite being an excellent musician because that’s where her boyfriend of three years, Kennedy, decided to attend as a legacy. At the beginning of the novel, two things happen:

  1. Kennedy breaks up with Jacqueline; and
  2. One of Kennedy’s fraternity brothers, Buck, attacks and attempts to rape her in the parking lot after a frat party.

Jacqueline is saved from Buck by a senior who’s in her economics class (he’s always in the back of class, drawing in his sketchbook), Lucas. However, despite his protests, she doesn’t report the crime. She then starts seeing Lucas all over campus (he holds down several odd jobs to pay his way through school) and her roommate Erin (a character I was quite surprised that I liked so very much) encourages her to pursue Lucas as a bad boy rebound fling. At the same time, she’s assigned an economics tutor, Landon, because she missed two weeks of class and a midterm, with whom she starts a kind of, sort of, maybe flirtation over email.

While this makes it sound like easy is the story of Jacqueline finding a new boy, what Easy is really about is Jacqueline finding her way back to herself.

Time would not change what I was feeling—or not feeling. I’d had time, and though the ache from his desertion hadn’t disappeared, it was decreasing. My future was blurry, yes, but I was beginning to imagine a future when I would no longer miss him at all.

Kennedy, the ex-boyfriend isn’t a bad guy per se (though he is kind of an idiot), but Jacqueline allowed herself to become consumed by Kennedy’s life and Kennedy’s dreams. He preferred calling her “Jackie,” so Jackie she became; it was important to Kennedy to attend the state school his father attended, so Jacqueline sacrificed her dream of attending a top-notch music program to follow Kennedy. 

Even with her increasingly-serious relationship with one of the aforementioned dudes, there’s as much to the story about Jacqueline figuring out who she is and what she wants out of a mature relationship as it is falling for this new guy. Furthermore, (please don’t be creeped out by this statement) it’s also a very sex positive book. I remember reading Love and Leftovers earlier this year and being struck that there was actually a YA novel that wasn’t all hung up on teen girl sexuality, it was positive and appropriate and real. I can say the same for Easy, and since it’s set in college, it’s addressed more overtly. (Not in a creepy or TMI sort of way.) More of this, please.

Easy is also a very girl-positive book. I think that’s a strange term, and one I’ve seen used a lot to describe this book, but I can’t figure out another way of saying it. Though, one of the characters said it quite well, 

Sisters in solidarity and all that shit.

 

 

I also adored the depiction of college life.

Relationships (both friendships and romantic) are intense in Easy—and that’s pretty typical of the way of life when living on a college campus. It made me a bit nostalgic for that time. If you lived on campus and found fast friends who you never would’ve connected with if you hadn’t been thrown into a class or dorm together, you’ll probably have the same reaction.

The negative aspects of college life (Greek organizations covering up sexual assault, dorm cliques and rumors, for example) also felt very authentic.

Easy isn’t perfect. For instance, I would have liked more depth with regard to Jacqueline’s passion for music.

She mentors young musicians at a local school and it’s obviously a huge part of her life, but that element is only really touched on. Even though I’m not a music person myself, I love reading books about characters who are passion about it (or anything, really), so it was somewhat disappointing the Jacqueline’s passion was not a more prominent part of the story. 

I also didn’t quite buy the solidarity of the sorority sisters (Jacqueline’s not in the sorority and this is not a sorority story) with regard to standing up against the cover-up of sex crimes by a fraternity. Maybe things have changed since I was in college, but back in the day, at the college I attended, a sorority simply would not have defied the heirarchy of the Greek system in that manner. That angle just felt a bit too… easy. (Ha!) But, regardless, it made for one of the more memorable scenes in the novel and I loved the girls standing up to the dispicable bro’ culture of the fraternity. 

I’m usually quite wary of self-published books, but Easy was worth the risk.

I think there have only been one or two I’ve been able to finish and would recommend (Angelfall by Susan Ee being the first that comes to mind). So, I want to make sure to emphasize that while Easy is self-published, it was professionally edited and holds up to the standards you’d expect out of any traditionally published novel. 

Easy fills a niche that is missing in traditional publishing. I’m baffled as to why there aren’t more college set novels. When I was a teen, I would have adored reading about college life and as an adult, there’s something about a romance set in a college that makes more sense to me than many of the plethora of high school set romances that pack bookstore shelves. And the independent for the first time themes in a novel set in college really appeal to me—I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

I can only imagine that it’s a problem of marketing. Even though I believe that teens would gobble up novels set in college, I wonder if the publishing climate is such that it’s tough to market these books? There’s always marketing them in the adult section, but, I’m not sure that’s the right fit with the coming-of-age theme that’s a natural fit for the college setting. 

Perhaps this will eventually be a gap filled by self-publishing and digital-first publishers? I certainly hope so.

{Buy Easy at Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | BN (Nook)}

{Add it on Goodreads}

FNL Character Rating: An alternate version of Tim Riggins who attends college and ends up being really, really good at school. (It’s interesting that the character that stands out to me is the love interest after I’ve gone on and on about what a girl positive book Easy is.) I’d be tempted to give Jacqueline a Lyla Garrity rating, but that makes her sound insufferable, and she’s actually pretty likeable. I mean a Lyla in the way she had to change her view on her own life after she realized it wouldn’t follow a path determined by her relationship with Jason Street.

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