Thursday, July 12, 2012


"When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex's frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life."

That will have to do for a synopsis, and it's...not very accurate. I mean, it is, but this isn't just about some girl who make a cake of herself over a guy. The subtext here, and the weight the author tries to give this otherwise flimsy story, is sexual assault and the way a young woman deals with the aftermath. So, you know, cheerful stuff.

It's a tidy little thing, very plot driven and easy to get through in an afternoon. The writing is smooth and the dialog much better than I expected. Unfortunately, none of the characters ever really come to life, with some side characters (most notably the stalking frat brother) barely more than caricatures. And, of course, there is far too much oogling of male physic going on. When the love interest can offer no more than ripped abs and some smoldering looks the whole thing feels icky and degrading to me. Luckily, a portion of the romance happens over email. That bit is charming, and I would have so much liked to see the same type of interaction in person. However, in person it's pretty much just sex and a brief mention that they "talked". About what, honey? Your bra?

Webber obviously wanted this to be, at least on some level, a PSA about sexual assault and why victims should out their attackers. The plot includes glimpses of the peer pressure, shame, fear, and potential consequences of surviving attempted (and successful) rape. It also takes the time to look briefly at the ways in which women both stand up for and betray each other in these situations. But, since it's a simple piece mostly concerned with the various ways a bra can be manipulated, it falls a bit short on this score. Jacqueline's roommate, Erin, had some real potential as a secondary character-the sorority girl/cheerleader/jock's girlfriend who unflinchingly supports her roommate against all societal pressure. But, unfortunately, she isn't every really developed. None of the other girls are either, though the book is filled with them. I kept wondering how this book would have read if the weight had been on the girls' relationships to each other in this situation, if their characters and motivations had been better developed.

Instead, this isn't really much more than a quick romance. And perhaps that suits its purposes best. In this way, the novel is perhaps more appealing (or at least more accessible/easily digestible) to the audience that would most benefit from it's message: busy and hormonally driven undergraduate girls. If a little drama/romance and some bump-and-grind will get girls to read it, perhaps they'll also respond to the plug for self-defense classes and being there for each other when crap like this goes down. So, in that way, well played Ms. Webber. Well played.

Rating: Two hickeys and a red solo cup.

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