Friday, October 4, 2013
Losing It by Cora Carmack | Book Review
AUTHOR: Cora Carmack
PUBLISHER/YEAR: HarperCollins / 2012
SERIES: Do companion novels count?
Goodreads / Author's Website
So I know New Adult doesn't have the best name for itself and for good reason. There's a lot of focus on romance over well anything else, the category seems kind of arbitrary and unnecessary, but I can't help myself, I kind of love it. Losing It by Cora Carmack ticks a lot of those boxes. It's a romance novel (probably the first I've ever purchased from my local bookstore's romance aisle) and the characters are thrust into some pretty interesting situations, but I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Bliss is a twenty-two year old virgin. She's completing her final year of university (theatre school) and is beginning to feel a little self conscious about this fact. What's a girl to do but go out with her friends, get drunk, and sleep with the first guy she sees? But actually. Bliss heads out to the bar and starts chatting with a Shakespeare reading guy who she then brings back to her apartment. Of course, when she leaves him naked in her bed she doesn't realize that he's her new theatre professor.
For me to get really into a book I need to be able to invest in the characters and Bliss was an easy one for me. I found her to be completely relatable and could completely invest in her story. I've had some friends read this book and question the twenty-two year old virgin aspect (or the deciding on a one night stand part), but here's the thing, these are things that happen. There are university students who are still virigins and on certain nights, maybe going out getting drunk and laid seem like the best options. There's stigma, people are embarrassed. Everybody's sexuality is expressed differently and I think Carmack handled this well. Bliss isn't defective or overly moral; she's just a pretty typical university student who happens to be a virgin.
I also loved that Carmack gives Bliss a group of supportive friends. I find in a lot of books characters are just sort of out there on their own, but Bliss' friends are there. They're not perfect, but they have interactions that focus on more than their romantic exploits. They have mutual interests and respect for one another. They're all from the theatre department and they all behave well in a pretty believable way. One of the things I enjoyed most was relating to these people who were just about to graduate theatre school. They're loud, they're boisterous, they're insecure, they're pretty much everything I remember about theatre school. They go out to the bars and drink too much or play some really stupid alcohol based truth telling games, but they're also incredibly focused on their careers. I have to admit that part of the reason I liked this book so much was because Bliss' theatre school experience reminded me so much of mine. We're a special group of freaks who willingly subject ourselves to theatre life and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Minor problem I had with this book (that well nobody else will have I'm sure) comes down to one line. Bliss has to choose between acting and stage management once she graduates. I can believe that some schools don't make you choose before you declare your major (mine did, actors auditioned, designers and technicians submitted portfolios), but to be both auditioning for and contemplating stage managing the last show of the season is a little much. Even that I can forgive, but at one point it's implied that stage management is the easy way out. For Bliss maybe it was; she's a control freak and stage management is all about schedules, organization and control, but it still rubbed me the wrong way. Nothing in the theatre world is easy and everybody has to work just as hard to make a go of it. Every stage manager or technician I know does it for the love of theatre because after we've spent fourteen hours straight preparing for cast to arrive and go home smelling like dust and sweat, well something has to keep us going.
Stage management rants aside, I enjoyed nearly every aspect of Losing It. The romance brought a lot of heat and the characters cared about each other. I got the sense that there was more to them than hormones; basically when characters in novels treat each other with mutual respect it makes me happy. They also had problems they had to overcome, both in the whole no dating professors kind of way, but also in terms of larger personal issues. There was nothing melodramatic, but Bliss for example had issues trusting and letting go which weren't magically solved even though she really liked Garrick (the professor). It was a nice balance. There was a love triangle at one point; it did nothing for me and I'm trying to gloss over it in my mind although it does set up Carmack's next book nicely.
I can't not recommend a book that takes place in theatre school and actually mentions people other than actors. I'm still looking for my perfect romance novel that involves like a stage manager and a lighting technician for example, but I may be setting my sights a little too high with that one. Carmack did a wonderful job creating characters who I could relate to and putting them in realistic albeit heightened situations. And seriously, the cover does not lie, it's pretty steamy.