SYNOPSIS: 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.
GENRE: Fiction, 1980s
RATING: ★★★★☆ / Gritty and Ugly Love Stars
REVIEW: I was provided a copy of this book from Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Do you ever start a book and think, "I'm going to love this book but other people are going to hate it...", after reading only a few chapters? It doesn't happens too often but when it does I know there are going to be some amazing and contentious (hopefully in a good way) book discussions. And now there are generally two types of readers; the ones who will look at that thought and be wary of looking further into this book, and the ones who will see it as intriguing and a challenge to read it and add their opinion. So which are you?
I think I was initially drawn to this book because it was different than anything that I have read recently. I was getting bored with the romantic comedies or serious-but-cute happily ever after stories. I was craving something ugly and raw, a love story that made me hate the characters as much as I rooted for them. I wanted to feel a little torn up by it all (see what I mean about people either loving or hating this book). So a 1980's set story of star-crossed lovers in a very gritty Manhattan was just speaking to me. And it didn't disappoint.
The book starts with an almost bang. We are given a glimpse of the ending and then travel back to see how the two lovers had made it to such a desperate situation. I personally love it when books are written this way. For me it's another driving force in the story and makes everything feel that much more real. It becomes a ticking clock, a countdown, a heartbeat within the words. And following that I just fell in love with the author's writing style.
Elisa and Jamey seem absolutely horrible for one another. To be honest, she has unrealistic expectations and he's a torn-in-two asshole. But they're inexplicably attracted to each other and what begins as an obsession, turns into something more real than either could have expected. They start to find their real selves in each other. Those deep down alarming thoughts that had to be suppressed because society wouldn't understand, they start to surface and solidify. They grow with each other as much as they clash, and it's addicting to read about.
There are some amazing passages in WHITE FUR that I had to randomly share with people as I went along. Incredible visuals that would almost sneak up on you with their brilliance.
"A group of club kids pops out the door. They're birthday cakes of sex. Ludicrous fairy-tale animals on the run. Clowns made of drugs. The cat won't look at them, won't feed their egos; he licks his paw instead."
"Prince is the son of Motown, born early and underweight, an over-incubated child raised in a bedroom with a white grand piano.
He summons Haitian spirits, Pentecostal virgins, drowned witches. If James Brown and Baudelaire had a hermaphroditic bastard, babysat by Mister Rogers, who grew up to wear lilac matador pants -- it would be Prince."
These various passages along with the raw grittiness of the story had me comparing the book in my mind to a mash-up of La Boheme-esque RENT (less AIDS and more cocaine) and Chuck Palahniuk as directed by Baz Luhrman. It's a very heady and interesting mixture, that's for sure.
In the end, I just enjoyed my journey this novel. And if this review didn't scare you off, then it might be a book that you would also enjoy! But don't come back and yell at me if you didn't (insert some sort of amusing emoji here if you're into that sort of thing).
Review by The Literary Llama