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White Fur

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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.

305 pages, Hardcover

First published May 30, 2017

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About the author

Jardine Libaire

8 books253 followers
I'm a fiend for books, bookstores, lit journals, found poetry, libraries, graffiti, artist books, diaries, screenplays---anything that tells a story. My MFA is from Michigan, which is a dearly beloved program. For the last ten years, I've been living in Austin, TX, a city that is very sweet + kind to artists ;) Over the decades, I've worked as a motel chambermaid, real estate agent, dishwasher, bartender, assistant to a perfume designer, art model, copywriter, grantwriter, and restaurant manager. I worship at the feet of Willa Cather. Every Thursday evening, I facilitate a storytelling class at the Lockhart Women's Prison here in Texas, and I've learned more about life from the women in the class than I have taught them, I'm quite sure. Right now I'm working on a new book about a cheetah and a deaf teenager.

William S. Burroughs said: 'Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside.' And Dolly Parton said: 'I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable.' And Oscar Wilde said: 'It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.' I love them all! xo

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5 stars
749 (14%)
4 stars
1,577 (30%)
3 stars
1,737 (33%)
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809 (15%)
1 star
351 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 866 reviews
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,912 reviews35.3k followers
April 14, 2017

Here is the LOST review I wrote Dec. 11th.... my 38th wedding anniversary....2016:

I couldn't pull myself away from the story. The aura feels raunchy and wrong -- and if I'm honest I was turned on --and not by romance with candles and sweet talk. I was also on the edge - worried - angry at times- afraid - sad - hopeful - and a few times just lost in the fantasy of "our world is fair...and we are all loved equally".
This is the type of tale that brings out emotions get some readers won't want to discuss. It's private and raw. We GET IT! We SEE IT! We FEEL IT.

Me... I am passionate as hell about this book-and I'll never be able to explain myself in my amateur review. As I try to express myself - I want to cry because - if I share some of my favorite excerpts - or even the details of the story - it still won't be enough. I'm afraid I won't be able to share The deeper things which back to me so much. I don't want to drop 'pieces' of dialogue ( gutsy - dangerous territory at times - yet more alive than daily life - and if that isn't sad -- well, yikes almighty!)

My fear is readers will take sides - their judgments will get the best of them --but for those who are willing to read this book imagining being in 'every' character shoes -
as if they were YOU -as if you CAN relate being ANY one of these characters (with their background history), I say HATS OFF TO YOU!!!!

One or two 'tiny' details: Jamey, Matt, and most of his close friends grew up in the same block - went to the same boarding school -- summered or skied together. "They
were raised in a pod, incubated in the thick and slippery gel of legacy. They arrived at Yale intact as a clan.
Elise was from a different world - "a townie". She didn't graduate High School.
Their worlds come together. ----

Elise...( a name we share), you are a kick-ass awesome character!!!

Thank You Crown Publishing, Netgalley, and Jardine Libaire......[WOW!!!...who are you?]

It's wonderful to revisit the 'feelings' of this story ...., and I still deeply admire our courageous, author, Jardine!!!

I read this last year.... early.... last Nov. or Dec.
It's a GUT GRABBING page turner...RAW ... STEAMY... SEXY... Thought provoking.... gorgeously written.
Several people have written me asking where my review? THEY SAW IT.
It's missing in action!
The scouts are looking for it .... until then
I highly recommend it. There are many wonderful reviews--- many of us loved this special book!!!

Really Terrific!
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,539 reviews24.6k followers
May 19, 2017
This is a gritty story of a raw desperate love, a clash of worlds colliding, of power, race, privilege, when the dirt poor, school dropout, mixed race and street smart Elise meets Jamey in New Haven, Connecticut where the two coincidentally happen to be neighbours. Jamey is a Yale man, whose path in life is laid out, determined by his wealth conscious, emotionally distant parents, and by virtue of his class. The eponymous white fur is a jacket Elise has managed to acquire and wears constantly. This is no sweet romantic affair, it is a full blooded lusty, high octane brutal passion, a twentieth century Romeo and Juliet with drugs, guns, cruelty, violence and mental health issues set in the brash lights and culture of New York.

Elise is not happy to be hostage to the demanding nature of her emotional need for Jamey. Jamey has been conscious of an emptiness in his life, and in Elise he believes he has found the answer to the questions in his life and love. He has a position in New York and asks Elise to move there with him, thinking their relationship will be more sustainable there. His desperate family are willing to do whatever it takes to break them up but Jamey doesn't care, all he wants is Elise. It is a fascinating look at the stultifying, rigid, and limiting world of white privilege, a straitjacket from cradle to grave. Elise's family is more flexible and accepting, their edgy world is more geared to survival in sharp contrast to the playground of Jamey's world. Is it possible for their love to survive with all that stands against it? Loved the 1980s vibe of New York City and culture. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
May 3, 2017
What a crazy, terrific book! Being a child of the 1980s, and given the fact that's when this book takes place, nothing captures the essence of White Fur better than these lyrics from the song "Obsession" by Animotion:

You are an obsession
I cannot sleep
I am your possession
Unopened at your feet
There's no balance
No equality
Be still I will not accept defeat
I will have you
Yes, I will have you
I will find a way and I will have you
Like a butterfly
A wild butterfly
I will collect you and capture you
You are an obsession
You're my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me
You are an obsession
You're my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me

The moment Elise Perez sets her eyes on Jamey Hyde in their New Haven neighborhood, she knows she wants him. Although they live next door to each other, they couldn't be more different. Elise was raised in housing projects all over Connecticut—she never knew her father, and became familiar with a life of sex, drugs, violence, and neglect all too early. Jamey, on the other hand, is a blue-blooded child of privilege—scion of an influential banking family, heir to a fortune, and son of an unstable film actress. He finds Elise fascinating, sexually alluring, and yet can't figure out why he'd want her in his life.

"But Jamey doesn't want to know her for the same reason that—(his brain starts fuzzing up here, trying to save him from the thought he's about to think)—for the same reason a farmer isn't close to his animals—it's not supposed to last."

It starts out as purely sex—Jamey doesn't take Elise out on dates or invite her to parties or even over to his house, but Elise knows she has baited the hook and will ultimately reel him in. Elise wants more, wants it all, but it isn't because of Jamey's money or his social standing (which she doesn't really understand at first, anyway), it's because she wants everything—love, sex, companionship, the kind of relationship she's only seen on television and in movies.

"She's always been an outsider. She isn't clearly black or white or Puerto Rican, and the world where she grew up was easier if you were one thing or the other, or if you claimed one thing or the other, which she could have done but never did."

Jamey feels simultaneously drawn to Elise and repelled by his attraction and his growing feelings to her. He knows this isn't what is expected of him, not what he was raised to do, yet the more he realizes he cares for Elise as more than a source of constant sexual fulfillment, the more he becomes enamored of the way it will upset the apple cart of his social circle. He doesn't want anyone to judge him or their relationship, although he doesn't realize exactly how he's treating Elise at the same time. And then his family gets involved, and the whole game changes.

White Fur explores the age-old theme of dating outside your social strata, disobeying your family, and deciding to follow your heart instead of what you've been raised to do. This is a book about how love can change us in ways we want it to, and ways we hope it won't, and whether giving in to those feelings is surrender or the right thing to do. And beyond that, this is a story of whether a love which causes so much trouble is the right love or simply an act of rebellion.

Based on the way the book begins, I was expecting the story to unfold very differently than it did, but I loved the path that Jardine Libaire took her plot down. These characters were fascinating, frustrating, at times even a little repulsive, but I couldn't get enough of them. Even though there are elements you expect, the plot takes many different twists (one which I wasn't quite sure about), and you find yourself rooting for these two to last even if you're not sure whether they will.

Libaire was tremendously attentive to her book's 1980s vibe, and the grittiness of New York City, where much of the book takes place. This is a book that is a little raunchy, a little romantic, a little predictable, but you can't stop reading, because you wonder how the plot will be resolved. Just a surprising, terrific read.

NetGalley and Hogarth provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
April 14, 2019
You can also see this review and others @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2018/...

I read some reviews for White Fur last year and after reading the blurb, it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Books like The Notebook and movies like “Pretty in Pink” are faves, and this story is about a rich boy who falls for a low class girl and they do fall in love, but it certainly isn’t that simple and not really what I expected.

*May contain mild spoilers*

Jamie is a Yale boy who comes from a wealthy family. They have high expectations of him and there’s no question about the direction of his future, until Jamey meets his neighbor Elise, and discovers he’s both fascinated by her and repulsed at the same time. He develops a hot and heavy sexual relationship with her, but fears intimacy. Elise is like a polar opposite; she’s low class, comes from a multi-racial background, never graduated high school, doesn’t know her dad, and learned about sex, violence and drugs at a young age. She wonders about Jamey and why he’s distant from her outside of their sexual encounters. What she really wants a normal relationship with him and for him to see her–the real her. The truth is, Jamey knows he shouldn’t want Elise because she smokes, curses, and he has issues with her behavior; not only that, he’s reminded by his best friend and family repeatedly that this simply can’t happen, but he can’t seem to shake the feelings he has for her.

Time moves forward and Jamey invites Elise to live with him in New York where there are less distractions. The hope is that they can continue their relationship without drama, but unfortunately, Jamey’s gang of a family won’t leave it alone.

The story is gritty and definitely cringeworthy. I felt that the writing was beautiful and detailed, but for me, it was way too wordy for this type of story. I found the multiple breaks in the narrative confusing and didn’t like the characters. Jamey and Elise’s relationship is pretty much all sex with zero romance for the majority of the book and I can’t understand how this book is described as a modern ‘Romeo and Juliet'. To me, in a Romeo and Juliet like story, couples don’t have sex with other people, nor do people in love for that matter, but that’s just my personal opinion. I didn’t have any emotion until the last 30-40 pages or so as things started to pick up, and it was more or less over the dog. There just wasn't enough going on to keep my interest. It had an unexpected ending, but not one that I was really pleased with because I felt like the future was still so uncertain for them. I’m wondering if there might be another book?

This is obviously just not my favorite kind of book, but I know others will like it. Don’t skip the book because of my review if this sounds like one you’d enjoy!


I'd like to thank Netgalley, the publisher, and author for an ARC of White Fur in exchange for a review. 
Profile Image for Deanna .
655 reviews12.4k followers
September 29, 2019
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

2.5 Stars

The description for WHITE FUR had me extremely intrigued.

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City

June 1987. The book starts off with an extremely tense situation in a motel room. Two people have been locked in the same position for over two hours. A decision will need to be made.

The author then takes us back to the beginning. January 1986 in Connecticut. Where it all begins.

Twenty-year old, Elise Perez lives with her friend, Robbie. Robbie found her one day sleeping in the backseat of his current boyfriends car. In her fur coat (that she traded a can of Pringles for), she looked like an animal curled up in the backseat. He took her home and they bonded quickly....neither of them knowing what to do with their lives.

They live next door to a couple of rich Yale boys. Elise makes her way outside one night after she sees the boys on the front porch smoking. They invite her in for a beer and she accepts. The neighbors, Matt and Jamey are very different. Matt is cocky and has a coldness about him. Jamey is more relaxed and seems kind. When Matt suggests it's time for Elise to leave, we find out the real reason she went over there. She has seen Matt trying to entertain his friends by making fun of Robbie. Mimicking his walk and mannerisms when Robbie doesn't see.

"And if you ever get near my friend Robbie again, let alone make fun of him like I seen you do, I'll burn your motherfucking house down."

It almost seems like Matt is going to attack Elise and barely controls himself. However, when Elise looks at Jamey she sees something different in his eyes...respect?

It's not long after that the relationship between Elise and Jamey begins.

Elise, a high school drop-out, left home a year earlier. She left to save herself from being pulled under by her family. Though they loved her and she loved them she needed to get out. Dirt poor, she's struggled and fought since the day she was born. Since leaving home she's done things she may not be proud of, but needed to do to survive.

Jamey grew up with the proverbial silver spoon....There was nothing he wasn't given. The Golden Boy. He was very young when he realized that everyone thought he knew something that they didn't.

"They think he knows the secret to life. They get mad when he doesn't offer it up."

As the months go by Elise and Jamey grow closer, their crazy, wild, and obsessive relationship taking many unexpected turns. The feelings they have for each other surprising everyone, including them. But so much is working against them. They come from completely different worlds. But the connection pulling them together is so strong. With everything and everyone trying to tear them apart how can their relationship possibly survive? What sacrifices will they have to make in order to be together?

This was a very different novel for me. I had so many different thoughts while reading it. My feelings were all over the place. I'm not a prude. It's not that I don't like gritty, grungy, sexy stories.... because I do. But there were some parts that were just too much for me.
I couldn't decide how I felt, but I kept reading. I'm angry at him, her, both of them, neither of them. ARGH. Some of it was painful, but I didn't stop reading.

Certain parts of their relationship make me uncomfortable. Some of the descriptions and decisions made are supposed to be of two people in love. But I know that we are all different. That every relationship is different. But some of it just didn't sit well with me. But really.... who am I to judge anyone?

I think I could be in the minority on this one. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it. I've seen a lot of great, positive reviews and that's awesome. But we all can't love everything we read. Unfortunately, there were quite a few times where things just didn't make sense to me, times where the writing confused me. Honestly, I had to look up the definition of more than a few words. That doesn't mean I couldn't see the beauty in some of the writing though. But after a while some of the detail seemed excessive.

Oh but there was a lot I DID enjoy about this book. A lot of the writing I highlighted and absolutely loved. And I still wanted to know what was going to happen with Elise and Jamey. So there was no way I was going to stop reading.

In the end, I'm still glad that I read this book. I was okay with how it all came together in the end...I think. I just found the trip a bit turbulent. And of course...this is just my opinion.

Thank you NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,399 reviews9,525 followers
August 7, 2017
I don't even know how to put this book into words. I'm sure there are so many words out there in the English language that I could come up with but I really don't know.

This is about Elise who came from no where but somewhere. This is about Jamey who came from money but learns there is something else in the world.

At first I thought this was just going to be a sex book after a few pages in, I mean yes, they have sex all of the time. Nasty, raunchy, make you aroused when you shouldn't be, sex. It's hardcore and too much for me at times.

Elise and Jamey live next door to each other. Elise lives with Robbie who is like a best friend to her. She takes up for him when the jerk, Matt, that lives with Jamey gives him trouble.

"Sure, yeah," Elise lights a Newport King. She stands to blow smoke in his face. "And if you ever get near my friend Robbie again, let alone make fun of him like I seen you do, I'll burn your motherfucking house down."

No holds barred. Elise is just that person. She's good people.

And there are some good people in the book as well. People I would love to meet in my lifetime. And there are others that are horrible, those you never want to meet.

This is a crazy journey that Elise and Jamey take together. I really thought Jamey was going to let her down. I thought he was going to blow her off after he got out of college. He didn't want to be seen with her at times, but things turn out in ways you would never believe.

If we could all have a dream come true . . .

Mel ♥

*Thank you to BloggingForBooks for a print copy fo this book.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews862 followers
May 28, 2017
Alright guys, it looks like I'm gonna be in the minority with this one. This is Fates and Furies all over again.

White Fur was a long, painful slog for me. I thought this book was overwritten and vapid; the characters were loathsome and one-dimensional; and perhaps most frustratingly, there was a distinct lack of subtlety to a narrative which was anemic to begin with. Filthy rich Jamey falls in love with Elise from the wrong side of the tracks, and... they have a lot of sex. That's it. That's the book. If you're expecting a nuanced examination of class differences, keep looking, because there's none of that here.

Take this passage, where Elise is meeting Jamey's family:

Elise should be a Dartmouth lacrosse star whose granddad went to Groton with Bats, and she should be bronzed from the Vineyard, lips opaquely shiny from Chapstick. So happy to meet you, Mr. Hyde!

But no! Jamey is pushing forward the real Elise, in couture dress, shins bruised from basketball, cornrows latticing her lean head, feet wedged into slingbacks.

Getting hit by a freight train whose sides are painted with the words THEY COME FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS may have been more subtle, but okay. And this wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't literally the entire book. There is absolutely no depth here. Jamey is rich and handsome and discontent and restrained, and Elise is poor and crass and loud and impulsive. Jardine Libaire leaves all her cards on the table by the end of the second chapter. There is nothing left to discover about these characters when every facet of their practically non-existent personalities has been spelled out from the very first page.

There's something undeniably voyeuristic about the way this story is spun. This book isn't romantic. It's gritty, dirty, raw. It's about the ugly sides of relationships, about jealousy and obsession. But that wasn't the problem, because in theory that all sounds great to me. I love books that take a conventional premise and then spin the narrative in a different direction. It's Romeo and Juliet but instead of love it's passion, lust, obsession? Cool. Sounds fun.

But it wasn't. I just didn't care. Why was I suffering through the uncomfortable experience of acting as a voyeur into the lives of these two characters who bored me to tears? The answer is because I don't DNF books. That's it. That's the only thing that kept me going. There was absolutely no intrigue, and absolutely no payoff for sticking with it as long as I did.

I thought the prose was terrible. It was trying so hard to come across as devil-may-care that I felt an acute sense of secondhand embarrassment for how much it did care. Each sentence felt artificially manufactured with MFA-degree precision (not that there's anything wrong with getting an MFA in creative writing, but sometimes it just shows; what should come across as effortless becomes painfully obtrusive on every page.) What we're left with isn't artistic or poignant or emotional or insightful, it's mostly just insipid.

(Vaguely NSFW text ahead, this quote is taken from a sex scene.)

Jamey is starting to operate in a trance, biting his lip. He's a mystical vision of an orangutan in a nature show. He actually has the thought: I'm a monkey, and that's okay. He's got a dumb look on his face and that's okay. For a minute, an hour later, right before he comes again, with two tongues licking him like kittens, he understands everything.

I'm sorry, but what is the point? Is this supposed to be profound? Sexy? Shocking? It's not any of those things. It's awkward. It's dumb. It's embarrassing. I could not stop cringing the entire time I was reading this.

But in an effort of not ending on a terribly negative note: none of my Goodreads friends who have read this have given it less than 4 stars. This is clearly a matter of personal taste, so if you think this sounds like the sort of thing you'll like, give it a try! And I'm sorry for being so negative, but this is one of those books which managed to tick every item on a checklist I didn't even know I had of things I hate in fiction. Sorry White Fur, we were like oil and water from the beginning.

Thank you Netgalley and Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from an ARC copy and may be edited before publication.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,710 reviews2,260 followers
May 30, 2017

Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes
You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another kiss is all you need

Robert Palmer - Addicted to Love

Elise is street smart; she has no illusions about her life, the kind of girl who grew up on the “wrong” side of the tracks in the projects in Bridgeport. She knows who she is, but she also knows how others see her, and she knows she wants better for her life. She leaves home, runs away, trying to leave behind the mother she loves, but can’t live another day with, and her younger siblings who need her protection.

She has no real place to go, no real money to live on, so when she finds an unlocked car one night, she crawls in. Desperate for sleep. When Robbie and his boyfriend-of-the-night / the owner of the car return and find her, they see her for what she is.

”An elegantly sad runaway in generic white sneakers and gold bamboo earnings.”

Robbie takes her home, rescuing her from a far worse fate, and they become roommates. Friends.
It is out of this window in this apartment where Elise first sees Jamey with Matt, two guys from Yale. They live in the townhouse next door, a relic and reminder of better days in the neighborhood, stately, glimmering with the fractured, dancing lights of the chandelier, fallen from grace.

Without pausing to think, Elise heads out, not wanting to wait for that chance encounter, she knows she has to grab this chance herself. Fate is fickle.

And so, Elise and Jamey meet, she’s wearing her signature white fake fur jacket that a girl gave her in exchange for a half-eaten can of chips. Matt does almost all the talking; Jamey introduces himself but not much more.

”But, it’s the dimpled one, Jamey—she didn’t know he could exist until tonight; it’s like she was watching a jet cross the sky then realized it’s a bird. She has to reorient herself.

Jamey is the son of money, his mother a Hollywood starlet in her day, his father an investment banker. Power. Jamey has the manners that come with money, a projected life following in the footsteps of his father at the firm handed down through his grandfather.

When Jamey is offered an internship in New York City, he invites Elise to join him for a week or two, suddenly realizing how much he’s come to want her near. Little by little this leads to more.

They fall into this lust, raw, gritty lust, it permeates everything. Almost everyone else is against this relationship; each of them tuning out those who try to warn them that this has no chance of ending well. The more they are cautioned, the less they hold onto that convention of caring what others think. They move from being enthralled by each other to spellbindingly obsessed, this raw physical passion, inescapable. A love born of clinging to each other in a world destined to turn against them, and lust.

New York City in its 1980’s fusion of lust and grime and greed, the neon lights adding that glittering aura of the era and the location that has it all, from every level of the “haves” to the “have nots” living as neighbors, behaving as strangers. From Trump Towers to the darker streets that exist outside the reach of its glittering lights, those years, the days and nights in this magical city come alive in Jardine Libaire’s “White Fur.” For me, this was the real magic of this story, of this novel, the streets and the city come alive as though it were a fairy godmother overlooking this fiery, passionate couple, seemingly destined to those all around to end in flames. Perhaps that is what stars are made of, and perhaps it is up to the stars to decide their fate.

Pub Date: 30 May 2017

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Crown Publishing / Hogarth
Profile Image for Karen.
560 reviews1,105 followers
May 16, 2017
Everyone, really, is just looking for love.. This story is about two young people from different sides of the track who fall into a deep, intense relationship full of lust and grit and tragedy. It's dark, it's dirty, it's raw, and comical in some parts.
This all takes place in the 1980's, in New York.
I really felt for the young man Jamey who is due to inherit much from his wealthy family. He has never been happy in his life until he meets Elise who had left her dirt poor home to come to New York to try and find a better life, and ends up loving Jayme "too much".

Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing /Hogarth for the ARC.
Profile Image for Jessica Sullivan.
518 reviews422 followers
June 23, 2017
Fewer than 70 pages into this book I made the decision to continue hate-reading. It is so painfully shallow it reads like bad YA. If the characters were any more one-dimensional and under-developed they wouldn't even exist.

Marketed as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet (which, honestly should have been warning enough), White Fur is the story of Jamey, a WASP-y heir to an investment bank fortune, and Elise, a half-white half-Puerto Rican who grew up in public housing on the "wrong side of the tracks" or whatever. I hate myself for describing them in such cliches, but I'm just taking what I was given.

Jamey and Elise meet and fall in love...though I honestly have no idea why because there's no character development or insight into anything that happens. They basically just really like having sex with each other and then one day they're in love and Jamey decides he needs to relinquish the fortune he was supposed to inherit so he can distance himself from his predictably shitty family. Oh, and it takes place in the 1980s in New York City for whatever reason.

Then...things get really weird. Like, I wouldn't even be able to explain what happens without it sounding so silly and out of left field, which is exactly what it is even though it's supposed to be really sad and tragic or something.

I don't know, you guys. I was originally drawn to this because I thought maybe it would explore class issues in an intriguing way, but it brings almost nothing to the table and what it does bring is predictable and cliche.
Profile Image for Stacey.
874 reviews162 followers
April 24, 2017
Oh man, this is my kind of book. Elise and Jayme are an unlikely match. She's from the 'hood' and has had a pretty rough time growing up. He is from privilege and extravagance, movie star mother puts his life in the spotlight. Parties, holidays abroad, Yale education...you get the picture that these two are from different worlds. But yet. There's an attraction and it's urgent, passionate, sexual and desperate.

It starts in New Haven, CT and moves to glitzy New York in the '80's. It's a fast, drug induced, work hard/play hard lifestyle that fits the '80's to a T. Jayme feels like he's "owned" by his parents' money and his future inheritance. Introducing Elise and her raw, uncensored personality is a challenge and is met with opposition and disgust. Both of these characters face their past head on and united. This story moves to unexpected territory when visiting friends. There is only one ending for these two living so dangerously close to the edge.

Thank you Net Galley and Jardine Libaire for the opportunity to read this novel!

Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,329 followers
June 3, 2017
3.75 stars. How many ways can you reconfigure Romeo and Juliet? Probably infinitely. In some respects, White Fur is incredibly original. In other ways, it's awfully familiar. Set in the late 1980s, Elise and Jamey meet while Jamey is a student at Yale. Jamey comes from a ridiculously wealthy and elitist family. Elise comes from a mixed race family at the very low end of the socio economic ladder. At first, it's unclear where their relationship is going and what their individual intentions are. With time, this becomes the story of Jamey and Elise against the world. The plot is familiar because, well, it's another take on an iconic story. But what makes this one original is the rawness and grittiness of Elise and Jamey's relationship -- with kudos to Jardine who avoids falling into easy stereotypes in her depiction of these characters (although Jamey's family does seem a bit unidimensional at times). While I enjoyed reading most of White Fur, I didn't love the end which explains why it wasn't quite a four star read. The end was a bit weird and felt like a cop out. Still a good read for anyone who has a taste for some grittiness embedded in their literature. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,126 reviews2,272 followers
August 15, 2019
1.5 stars

Once again, I‘m an outlier. I wanted to like this book, but didn't. The premise isn’t a new one, although the blurb compares it to a modern Romeo and Juliet (it isn’t IMO). Wealthy Yale student, Jamey, whose family fortune is in investment banking, falls in love with Elise, a mixed-race, unsophisticated, uneducated girl from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s spoiled and discontented, while she is crass, impulsive, and crude.

The allure was pure lust and their relationship was all physical. The sex scenes are seedy and detailed. I’m no prude, but it was too much for me. It wasn’t sexy, it was raw and gritty and made me feel icky. There was one scene where Jamey had a threesome with a couple they met at a bar while Elise watched. I never really understood how or why they ‘fell in love’ because little of their relationship was developed outside of the bedroom. There was no romance, no sweetness.

We can guess how his family will react, nothing new here. I didn’t care for the characters but my enjoyment of a book doesn't depend on likability. I found nothing to root for and found their behavior stupid. The ending of the book was just strange and weird.

So why did I finish it? It was a Book of the Month choice for June (although I borrowed mine from the library), so I expected it to be very good. Hope springs eternal and I thought something would happen to redeem the story, or the characters would grow and develop instead of just having a lot of sex. Neither happened.

Here are a few examples of the flowery prose with nonsensical metaphors. Some readers like this type of writing. I am not one of them.

“He walks down the sidewalk behind an old lady leaning into the winter sun…..Passing, he sees the Peppermint Patty of a mole on her jowl.”

“The New York Times is on doorsteps, a sack of ideas and facts, the city’s brains and tongues gutted by masterful hands, arranged into sausage.”

“The cobblestones shine, horse phantoms clop over them. And how do you know this turd is human shit? The deli bag that wipes someone’s ass is crumpled next to it, and a cloud of wounded pride hangs dense as flies”.

“Her eyes are incredulous and her mouth is resigned; the two features creating one meaning, the way Chinese characters are built.”

“Elise thinks about Gretchen’s journey. How she was raised up, by a hot-air balloon of a heart, and she floated over fields and hills, chubby ankles hanging in the sky, across the many miles”.

I think the story could have been a good one if the characters and their relationship had been better developed, and the sex scenes had been toned down.

** I changed my rating to 2 stars because to be fair, there was some good writing amidst the purple prose.
Profile Image for Melisa.
324 reviews516 followers
June 19, 2017
Dark and gritty with a dash of humor, White Fur had me captivated from page one.

The story of star-crossed lovers is one that's been told before, but never quite like this. Jamey and Elise are from opposite sides of the track, and while everyone feels that it's wrong, they know that it's right.

The prose in this book is outstanding. While it may not be for everyone, I was sucked in and never looked back. Heaven knows my brain does not work the way this author's does, so I appreciated this even more - knowing that I could never write the way the author does was fascinating. Mad respect on the exceptional writing, Jardine Libaire.

While this story takes place in the 1980's (bonus points!) it is a story that is timeless and could take place at any time throughout history. But as a child of the 80's, it was highly enjoyable.

You will be rooting for these lovers by the story's end, mark my words.

Note: there are quite a few graphic sexual scenes. While some of it may feel gratuitous, I believe it truly illustrated how this couple's relationship evolved from lustful to love. If this is not your thing, you may want to consider skipping this one.

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
May 2, 2021

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I bought WHITE FUR ages ago when it was on sale because I thought the summary sounded great but I didn't read it until now. This is a moody, gritty story set in New York in the 1980s. The heroine is a half-white/half-Puerto Rican girl who ends up falling for the WASP-y heir to a banking empire. Their ill-fated romance starts out as a purely physically-based obsession and ends up, maybe, becoming something more. But nobody is rooting for them except themselves.

For 90% of this book, I was thinking this would be a five-star read. The prose is SO lush and descriptive. You know the kind of writing that manages to be novel and interesting without being ridiculous? I found myself reading passages over and over, seething with writerly envy, and thinking, "I want to be YOU when I grow up." I mean, the writing is seriously a cut above and so evocative of the time (the 80s) and the place (grungy New York). I literally could envision all of the sights, sounds, and tastes, and it's so rare to find an author who can make their writing so transportive on such a sensory level.

And then the last 10% happens. I saw other reviewers complaining about this also, and while it didn't bother me quite as much, it definitely left me with the impression that the author maybe had some uncertainties over how to end her book. After an acid trip gone wrong, things derail quite completely and there's all this incorrect scare tactic stuff about ECT and acid that made me roll my eyes. As a psychology major, reading stuff like that is like going to a cocktail party and hearing someone tell you that humans only use 10% of their brains (false), or that they know someone with Alexandria's Genesis (an urban legend that seems to have been cribbed from very old fanfiction).

I still really loved the book, even if I hated the ending and felt like it was a bit of a cop-out after that truly wicked prologue and the great build-up. I would read anything else this author wrote, especially if it was set in the 1980s, but also because I just really like her style. In many ways, this book reminded me a lot of Susie Yang's WHITE IVY, although I don't think that Libaire quite dared rise to the sheer, devastating brutality of Yang, even though the two books share many similar themes and if you like one, you'll probably enjoy the other.

4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,022 reviews882 followers
May 9, 2017
White Fur was unlike any novel I've read in recent years: it was raw, visceral and potent.

Elise Diaz and Jamie Hyde are the protagonists of this passionate affair. Elise is a girl from the 'hoods', who's unsophisticated, uneducated, and doesn't have a plan or agenda. She develops a crush on Jamie Hyde, a preppy, rich, white boy, who lives on the same street, while he attends Yale. Eventually, they get together, and there's a strong, animalistic attraction between them. The sex is out of this world. They go at it, all the time. As others have stated it before me, there are a lot of sexual encounters in this book. You get used to it. Or you don't.

This novel, set in the 80s New York, is an interesting study of contrasts, between the haves and have-nots, but in an observational, non-judgemental kind of way. The interesting thing for me was that neither the abjectly rich nor the very poor came out as superior beings. I guess the extremes are never good.

I liked a lot of things about this novel: the writing is stellar at times. The characters are fully formed, and I liked that they weren't perfect, far from it. Then there's a lot of minutiae about the two protagonists' daily life. It got a bit repetitive, so I got a tad bored.

Has anyone else imagined Elise as an African American/Puerto Rican girl? I know she was supposed to be white, but those cornrows made me image her as a non-Caucasian. It was interesting to note that once she moved in with Jamie she never changed her style, not even when she got a job, presenting off-the-plan apartments to potential rich buyers. It seems unrealistic to me, but not a huge issue.

Anyway, White Fur was interesting, but I wouldn't say I loved it, and I can't quite explain why not.

3.5 stars

I've received this novel via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this advance copy.
Profile Image for Taylor Reid.
Author 23 books134k followers
July 5, 2017
The story is great but it is the prose of this book that is truly exceptional. The sentences are fascinating, original, clever, evocative, and hugely compelling. The descriptions elicit visceral feelings. This is a truly unique voice.
Profile Image for Lolly K Dandeneau.
1,835 reviews230 followers
February 8, 2017
via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/

"She’s the uncommon baby left in a crib that consoles itself, that can stare for hours at the ceiling.”

This is not just another Romeo and Juliet knock off. It is gritty and sticky love, it isn’t sweet meanderings and tender moments. There is a moment early in the novel that exposes wealth and success, the way people feel about those born to such privilege. “People look at him like one of those Tibetan children picked out as a reincarnated lama. They think he knows the secret to life. They get mad when he doesn’t offer it up.” That, my friends is the burden of privilege for some. The heavy expectations of greatness, otherness… much like beauty is trailed by admiration and devotion when it’s a fluke of genetics. It sounds silly, feeling sorry for the wealthy, those born into opportunity, the best education with every connection to success while the rest of us rough it and have to fight, bite just to be noticed. Jamey is a Yallie and when he falls for Elise, worlds clash. They may as well be living on different planets. Elise is biracial with a real world upbringing, far more seedy- she is the after school special character Jamey's people warn about. Poor, uneducated, trash… in other words, streetwise, tough as nails and living day to day with no solid plan to the future. The bright ‘future’ is for those with golden roads and money, with people like Jamey who people rally behind. Their differences are a seduction, isn’t that often the way of love? Wealth can be a lie as much as poverty, a chain- with it there seems you never really own your life. You are told who to keep away from, you are ‘special’ and anyone with less than you is inferior. Flip the coin and there is just as much mistrust and animosity towards the privileged, with their white glove existence, their ignorant distance from the hardships the rest of us encounter. Human beings divide innately, be it color, country, class- and dare anyone step outside that divide, there will be consequences even in our ‘oh so modern’ times.

Is she just his ‘bit of rough’? She hungers for him and hates herself for it. She is desperate for every experience, a sexual being, a girl who grew up in shelters with her mother- though protected as best as one could hope for. She and her people are on the bottom of the totem pole, more… under the bridge sort of folks while he is the creme of the crop. He is Yale, she is a drop out… his jobs were sunny summer ones, teaching tennis, working at yacht clubs and hers are for survival, not to ‘build character.’ The early dialogue between Jamey and his friend has a sneering distaste for ‘people of her ilk.’ Her raw existence, her energy and lack of pretense is what draws him to her despite any misgivings. “There is a baldness to Elise, a stripped-down sleekness like a car left for dead, it’s parts jacked and sold.” Jardine Libaire’s sentences put seedy images in the mind as much as fresh and pristine ones, I feel I can smell and taste each moment. Unlike other such novels, she doesn’t have to tell you the vast differences in their worlds, she can show you simply by mentioning tennis or a man in khaki’s touching himself. Sheltered vs exposed, dirty vs sterile- and yet Jamey and Elise are not caricatures. She may come off as brutal and tough, but inside she is as gooey and needy as any precious princess in Jamey’s prestigious school.

You know the story, his family and friends aren’t going to accept a ‘Perez’ in their midst. They don’t rub shoulders with people from the projects, not in social circles, maybe for charity but certainly not as a daughter in law! Heaven forbid! This is a young woman who doesn’t act like a lady, she has slept in subways and dumpster dived. She is uncouth, vulgar, she brings too much reality into the beautiful safe world his people inhabit. Beneath the seemingly charmed life, the cold controlled exterior he projects there simmers stranger desires and a hunger for more than safety. Elise stirs something explosive in him and the two will spiral out of control. Her mother, her life is beat up, beaten down, hard knock! Yet somehow, beyond explanation, she and Jamey meet each others’ needs, there can be no one else.

The family won’t have it, we all know from the first moment Jamey and Elise are together that there will be manipulation and severe consequences for their forbidden love. Torturous love, suffering, drugs, danger, life or death. Will they survive long enough to see where their fiery love spits them out? Star-Crossed love isn’t a promise for happiness. Love ins’t safe, it can be raw, insidious, infectious as any fatal disease. If only they could live in a bubble, but no one escapes the interference of loved ones who know what’s best. Could they push the two closer to destruction?

Put this on your to read shelf. It’s going to be a wait. This novel will be released in May 2017. I wanted to share so many quotes, but this is an arc. The writing is gorgeous, and were I to dive deeper into what happens it would have given away too much of the novel. This isn’t a ‘pretty’ look at love, it’s more honest and unflinching. Exactly what I needed to read, Romeo and Juliet brutalized.

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Crown Publishing


Profile Image for Sam.
142 reviews309 followers
March 2, 2017
More to come from me closer to publication, but I found this to be an unsettling, raw, powerful read, one that really felt in some ways like I was a voyeur watching Jamey and Elise which made me uncomfortable with myself, and yet I couldn't deny the attraction and charged emotion I felt reading it. This book is also one in which I recognized my own thoughts and feelings and instincts in their heads and words and the writing, some at fairly base levels. The whole thing is kind of messy, fucked up, passionate, heady, doomed yet full of hope, and I saw myself in it and could also really put myself in their perspectives. I'm still figuring out how I feel about the ending, though my gut reaction felt like it didn't quite fit with what had been building prior and I was waiting for something bolder and more passionate and befitting the intensity of these characters, which is why I went for 4 stars as opposed to 5 for now (but probably 4.5 overall in reality).
Profile Image for Jordan.
106 reviews9 followers
December 18, 2016
I just finished White Fur now, at 4am, so I'm trying to process my thoughts and feelings so I can give an accurate review. I have to admit this wasn't what I expected. I was really looking forward to an ARC of this title because there's been a bit of buzz about it lately and what I've read, mostly the reviews of others, has intrigued me very much. However, once I obtained a copy and began reading it myself, my initial impression was that I wasn't going to like it. I think the first half of the book really dragged slowly for me but in hindsight it might have been necessary to really give the characters depth and dimension, and the second half picked right up and it was one thing right after another until the end.

White Fur is a Romeo and Juliet type of story where two young adults from different worlds are brought together by fate and circumstances and are basically forced to go to war with the world in order to defend their relationship. It was really a touching and beautiful story, very well written, and honest and heartbreaking. It really makes you recognize the vast divide between social classes, keeping segregation alive and well when children are taught from a young age that they are either better than, or less than, building the foundation of their image and ideas about themselves and others. This was the case for Jayme who was born to a prominent family with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was attending Yale with a promising career and a bright and lucrative future mapped out before him and image and reputation meant everything to everyone he surrounded himself, especially his "lilywhite" father. Then there was Elise, a biracial, high school dropout from the wrong side of the track who lived every day like it was her last without giving second thought to her image or her future. The two begin seeing each other and try to figure out how they can fit into each other's world when their lives are so fundamentally different and they soon learn that it won't be without sacrifice and compromise. I don't want to get to in depth with this review and give anything away that would spoil another's enjoyment of this wonderful story but I will say that this is a book worth reading, and sticking with even if it starts out slow. It picks up quickly in the second half and so many things happen, it's such a beautiful journey these two good hearted, well meaning, star crossed lovers embark on and I enjoyed it so much I was sorry it had to end.

I'm rating White Fur with four out of five stars and the only reason I'm not giving all five is because I did think the beginning was a little slow. But seriously, this is a great book! Definitely worth the read and I highly recommend it.

I received an advanced copy of White Fur from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,087 reviews1,511 followers
May 20, 2017
DNF @ 41%

White Fur is a book that I debated on reviewing when offered the chance because I was afraid that I wouldn't like this book. The synopsis sounded like it could go a couple of different directions and that I may or may not become a huge fan but unfortunately as I began reading I knew that this one just wasn't for me.

What I was hoping for was some fun nostalgic 80s remembrances but I never found those in the pages that I read. There were some mentions of the 80s but the story just seemed like a darker version than what I had hoped to read about. It's quite erotic in a lustful sort of way with the story and never seemed any romance at all to remind of Romeo and Juliet that the synopsis mentioned. And on top of those things I just didn't care for the characters or plot going on so much so that I found myself just skimming along when I did pick it up so since I kept putting this one on hold to read others I just decided to not finish as I wasn't finding it to get any better for me. Plenty of others are enjoying this one but unfortunately I just wasn't one of them.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....

Profile Image for Jennifer Blankfein.
379 reviews647 followers
November 6, 2017
Follow my blog Book Nation by Jen https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com for all reviews and recommendations.
The more I think about this novel, the more I love White Fur. It’s the 1980s and Elise, a school dropout and recently homeless young girl is living in New Haven with a friend she met on the street. Jamey is one of the white, privileged and wealthy guys in the apartment next door; the longtime buddies are students at Yale and everything material has been given to them on a silver platter. The unlikely attraction between Elise and Jamey is powerful, lustful and trepidatious on Jamey’s part, as Elise is from low-class, poor, unsophisticated stock, and although she has big love for her family and knows what she wants out of life, his fancy and pretentious family and trust fund friends would not be receptive. Their quirky relationship starts out behind closed doors, mostly confidential and strictly sexual in nature, and as their mysterious attraction builds they slowly become a couple.

Elise, always clad in her white fur coat, something she acquired in a trade on the streets, loves Jamey for who he is and not for the money. Jamey becomes whole as he blossoms under the devotion of Elise and her unconditional love for him; his upscale life has proven money can’t buy you love, and he gives up his fortune to be with his girl. They spend the summer together; the bright lights and the dark alleys, the lust and grime of 1980s NYC come alive when they move there for Jamey’s summer internship and between sexual escapades, experiences with new friends, evidence of white privilege and being on the receiving end of relentless judgement, they stick together and in the process he saves her from a life of being alone and she saves him from a meaningless existence of wealth with shallow relationships.

Beautifully written with some shock value and sprinkled with description that triggered memories of my own time in NYC (not the raunchy parts, more like the mention of Dorrian’s on the upper east side!), Jardaine Libaire tells the story of a girl who is neither white nor black who does not identify with any group and a boy who challenges the expectations of his family all in the name of love. One the outside, Elise appears to be a lost soul, but she is solid and in touch with her wants and needs while Jamey looks the part of a successful, young, wealthy well-adjusted guy yet he is broken and unsure of who he is. Author Jardine Libaire’s story causes you tho think about what is truly important in life and relationships and the meaning and importance of family. As much as Elise and Jamey were addicted to each other, I was addicted to White Fur! A wonderful and unique story of love with a crazy and unexpected ending!
Profile Image for switterbug (Betsey).
817 reviews751 followers
March 30, 2017
If you are searching for a strong character-based novel, and one about love against the odds, this may be up your alley. But it is also edgy, non-conformist, often sinister, and occasionally disturbing. It’s dark, even bordering on dystopian at times—but not in the standard (near-future) definition. This takes place in the past—1986 and ’87. There are also playful and sunny moments, but they tend to demonstrate a contrast to the atmosphere of menace. Not a cute little love story, but a rather in-your-face one that reveals the underside of real world sensibilities.

Elise and Jamey represent the ultimate incongruous couple. She comes from the wrong side of the tracks in New Haven—of mixed racial descent, uneducated and poor, and though not conventionally beautiful, she is arresting and sexy. Jamey is a white, handsome Yale student from an obscenely wealthy NYC family—divorced parents, actress mother, and colossally successful father.

They meet while renting next door to each other in New Haven. Elise has fled the family fold, and Jamey is an extension of his, but having second thoughts about familial expectations and choices. Elise is wild and wily, canny with a watchful bravado, and Jamey is pressured, oppressed, and feels cornered by the demands of his pedigree. Their romance was difficult, organically halting, slow starts and sputtering, even tortuous, but both have an authentic curiosity for each other. “There’s a baldness to Elise, a stripped-down sleekness like a car left for dead, its parts jacked and sold…What she did for him was voodoo.” “He thinks of himself as a telephone that was off the hook till now.”

When Libaire explores the hurdles within Jamey and Elise, the internal struggles, she’s really on-point. It’s rough and raw, full of exposed feelings and the slow dissolving of walls and the fear of emotional decay. But, she also adds, for dramatic effect, the external hurdles of, mainly, his family and friends. At times, his side of the family seemed contrived, almost like caricatures, one-dimensional and singular in their actions. Opposition was to be expected, but it was heavy-handed at times. And Elise’s family was not without the stereotypical distinctions.

The characterizations of Elise and Jamey were vivid and searing, and the narrative was rugged and visceral, and rouse empathy for their obstacles. The last 50 or so pages, the author took some big risks. At first, it felt too alien and forced—another external handicap to try and overcome. What did work was that Elise and Jamey stayed true to character, and, for me, they overcame the weaknesses of plot. I look forward to more of Libaire.
Profile Image for Book of the Month.
229 reviews12.5k followers
June 1, 2017
All’s Fair in Love and Class Warfare
By Judge Laia Garcia

Star-crossed lovers lead completely opposite lives yet find themselves living next door to each other. Jamey is a legacy trust-fund kid studying at Yale; Elise a streetwise girl from the Connecticut projects with nothing to her name but an old white fur coat.

Their love burns with the fire of a thousand suns, the way all first great loves do, and everything that transpires between them stokes that fire deeper. Every word and every silence. Every sex scene (they are numerous and steamy). Every glance and every breath. It’s a kind of love that feels like poetry, and Jardine Libaire’s prose captures the heightened emotions of the young couple, with language that envelops you like you are floating beneath clouds of cotton candy. And yes, it’s true that sometimes her prose can also make you feel like you’re drowning in molasses, but that’s also part of being in love. Drowning.

Their love moves at the speed of a runaway freight train, from New Haven to New York City, and the book develops with that same intensity. As I found myself reading faster and faster, the intoxicating, maddening energy of their relationship spilled out of the pages and into my real life. My heart beat faster and faster, so much so that at one point I had to put the book away, not ready to find out what was about to happen in the next pages. At dinner, I could only talk about the book, relaying the story of Jamey and Elise to my boyfriend who patiently sat across me, as if they were real people.

White Fur is raw and powerful—a love story where love conquers all, but still makes us wonder, is it worth it?

Read more at https://www.bookofthemonth.com/white-...
Profile Image for Chris  C - A Midlife Wife.
1,482 reviews264 followers
May 11, 2017
This was a very odd story. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Not sure what I feel.

I had a difficult time gathering my thoughts on this book I reviewed. The beginning captured me. The writing itself is extremely unique. Very detailed. Raw and gritty. Very street like - somewhat like the character the author has created in Elise.

The middle of the book is very drawn out - highly detailed and just very day-to-day, in and out storyline. I ended up skimming quite a bit.

By the end of the book, I was intrigued by the turn of events and was not really expecting where the author took us. It was a bit shocking and yet in character with the rest of the story, once I thought about it.

Overall, I think I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Parts of it I did not care for at all but I really enjoyed the beginning. You will have to decide for yourself.

May 5, 2017
via my blog at http://www.craftyscribbles.com

Jamey and Elise, two people, divided by class and life, meet in New Haven, CT. He's a Yale student. She's a wandering soul. Mix instant attraction and sexual obsession. Bake at 425º. Gorge on sex and drama. Expect no cool-off.

Neon. Michael Jackson. Fifty-thousand bracelets clinging for life on my arm. Good times, right? Throw in Reaganomics, poverty, and drug abuse around the country and nostalgia's becomes unclean. Jamey and Elise live over their heads. None's the wiser.

Libaire paints New Haven, CT and NYC as an observer of its residents. Via omniscient perspective, her narrator scoops us on the cities' players. We survey their desires. We judge their mindsets. We nitpick at their habits. She dances on the lurid and putrid smells each scene drenches your skin. Blood. Sex. Vomit. Libaire leaves nothing to the imagination. I love writers appealing to our senses. As I read, I require a full picture to walk with the characters. I smell the funk and desperation. I hear the taxis. I see the lights sparkle as the night arrives. Libaire delivers.

As mentioned before, this couple lives beyond their mental means. They live a game daily. You wish the best, but you expect the worst. They're barely in their twenties. A fool's game. They obsess over themselves, while having nothing in common, but sex and danger. She's barely literate and easily angered. He has one year of a Yale education and desiring acceptance. What else beyond obsession do they possess? Surely, this relationship cannot survive into their thirties. The piper will come for what he or she wants later. (I'm showing my age. I fell for the piper's pit in my teens; so, I relate)

While I love this story, there's a bit of a clunk. Libaire provides a delicious character in Elise. She owns her sexuality. She curses. She hustles. She's a survivor. Cool. Here's the thing: She would have worked better as a woman of color since Libaire pretty much put markers that, if you didn't know any better, nuances one. Did she fear criticism, if she made this girl black or Puerto Rican, but substituted a white girl, despite giving her attributes of girls I grew up with in my neighborhood? You give her cornrows, slang, and mannerisms ringing black or Puerto Rican, but you make her white.

Big mark missed, Libaire. Big mark missed. Imagine the avenues journeyed if you pushed further. Elise, as she is, could go to Vidal Sassoon, fix her hair, and shop Macy's, and the Pygmalion moment begins. She would have a better shot of acceptance, leaving class as the sole disdainful reason. But, if she was black or Puerto Rican, no matter the amount of Pygmalion moments, she would never earn acceptance. Thus, racial and class implications permeate the story. Oh well.

Still, the book entertains, even if a story about pushing boundaries walks a tightrope in characterization. 4/5.

*Thank you, Penguin and First to Reads for this reading opportunity in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Amy Morgan.
163 reviews14 followers
April 10, 2017
I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Such powerful, raw emotion throughout this entire book. Elise knows that she will love Jayme from the moment she meets him. He comes from a world of privilege while Elise's life has been filled with anything but privilege and opportunity. The two of them find a love that fixes everything they didn't know was broken and find a way to fight for it while the world continually tries to tear them apart. I was wowed by this book from the very start!
Profile Image for Sara.
221 reviews36 followers
May 5, 2017
IM LITERALLY HUGGING THIS BOOK. Elise and Jamey Hyde have made me believe in love. Or Jardine Libaire did. Or they all did.

The original Romeo and Juliet will break your heart. This version will put the pieces back together.

I love books where I can feel a deep, real connection to the characters the author creates, and I felt it all here. I don't come from the same socio-economic background that either Elise or Jamey come from, but what will always transcend social class and money is love.

Elise, a girl from the projects of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is worthy and able of a profound and ever-lasting love with and for someone, Jamey, who never claims to be above her, but by nature of society (and bank account), is. But Jamey draws her up, and Elise brings Jamey down, in just the most magical and wonderful and dirty and raw and beautiful ways.

I will be honest, it took our modern-day Romeo and Juliet getting out of New Haven for me to truly appreciate Elise and not be sort-of-annoyed by her and the way she interacted with other people. But I'm so glad I found that breakthrough, because I love Elise. Dirty, junkie-ridden 1980s New York City uncovered an angel, a diamond in the rough. And I love Jamey. A diamond who became rough once he crossed to the other side, away from the posh, upper-class New York City he knew.

This story is amazing. I never want to let go of it. Elise and Jamey brought me so much happiness, when I was so certain this was all going to end in doom. Fear not. READ THIS BOOK.

Thank you to LibraryThing for the opportunity to read this book in advance.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,194 reviews34.9k followers
June 14, 2017
This book is a hot mess. Seriously, the author takes the rich boy falls for poor girl to a whole new level in this book. Falling into lust and then love, this couple has a raw messy romance that isn't quite a romance in the beginning. Their "chance" encounter starts with sex, then turns to obsession, then love. Those in their lives are confused and conflicted about their relationship. The couple is faced with not only socio-economic issues but issues concerning race as well.

Jamey is a Yale educated with a wealthy father and actress mother. His family looks polished and put together but they are dysfunctional, not loving, friendly or overly nice at all. What they do excel at is control. His parents are divorced but are both on the same page with not wanting their son with Elyse. Jamey's parents will do whatever they can to stop their son from making what they feel is a mistake by being with Elyse.

Elyse was born to a teenage Mother and grew up in poverty and did not finish high school. She has seen and experienced things growing up that made her tough and street smart. Her emotions rule her and she lives her life with passion. She is not polished or the "girl next door" type. She smokes, she swears, she works in a fish store, and she is not out to impress anyone. She is, in essence, true to herself. Her family is more accepting of her relationship with Jamey.

Their tale is dark, sexy, raw, emotional and twisted. This is not a love conquers all fairy tale romance. Their romance is rough and seedy. They love and want the other and then get sick/upset with themselves for their want and needs. I'll admit there were times I thought "what the hell am I reading?" This is a raw gritty book. This book is definitely not for everyone. This is not your Mother's Harlequin romance. Based on the opening sequence of the book, I thought this book was going to end quite differently. Kudos to the Author for pulling that off.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
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