Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Faking It

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to live the life of a single New Yorker. I wanted to be a part of the city, part of a scene- coffee shops, bookstores, galleries, dating, whatever; knowing my way around, riding the subway fearlessly... All those years in New England I passed myself off as that New Yorker. But I never was. I faked it. I was just a sheltered girl from the Long Island suburbs.
-from Faking It by Elisa Lorello

I'm going to be honest with you: after I read Paint It Black, my brain was a little fried and I was just plain exhausted from reading that book, so I browsed the Kindle Lending Library for the most interesting of all the cheesy chick lit romance novels out there and settled on Faking It. I am not at all disappointed that I did! 

In Faking It by Elisa Lorello, Dr. Andi Cutrone is a university writing professor who returns to her native New York after a broken wedding engagement. Determined for a fresh start that develops into reinvention, Andi barters with Devin, a male escort frequently employed by her colleagues, for lessons on how to be a better lover; In exchange, Andi tutors Devin in writing and rhetoric. Over the course of their studies they begin to teach each other more than contractually obligated; lessons in inner beauty, friendship, self-esteem, truth, and of course, love. 

At first glance the premise seems really far-fetched and more than a little predictable, however this book is so much smarter and more refreshing than it sounds. It took a little while for the story to gain its footing, but once it did I was impressed by how much this novel was not what I expected at all. I thought I knew exactly how this story was going to play out, but when it didn't go as anticipated I loved the characters so much that I almost wished it would play out like a stereotype and everyone would get a happy ending.

What sets this novel apart from others in its genre is that, despite the premise, the characters and their actions are multifaceted and realistic. Instead of Andi being a mild-mannered klutz (a la Bella from Twilight, Anastasia from 50 Shades of Grey or [most obnoxiously notable] Claire from Weekends Required) she's an intelligent professor who has repressed so many negative experiences relating to sex and body image that they affect her social interactions and romantic relationships in ways readers can relate to. (As an aside, why do so many romance/YA/chick-lit authors think that the easiest way to flaw a heroine is to make her a klutz? I mean, really? How lazy is that, writers?!). Similarly, Devin doesn't fit into the same box as a lot of other male leads in his genre; he doesn't come in and automatically sweep Andi off her feet or instantly fall for her and demand exclusivity. He does know what women want, but he has boundaries because of his own psychological struggles that prohibit him from making emotional connections. True to life, there is no simple fix for deep rooted emotional issues (nope, not even a sparkly vampire can fix those quickly!) and Andie and Devin learn from each other how to work through and move past the things prohibiting them from living to their full potential.

Of course, because I expected so little it was easy for me to overlook the less impressive parts of this book; like how Andi's story develops a bit haphazardly, making the first quarter or so of the book feel less fluid than the rest. The slow development of information wasn't cryptic enough to make me feel like I was supposed to be solving the puzzle of her past; instead it was frustrating when I realized I didn't have a proper grasp on who Andi is as a character. Despite this rocky beginning, there was never a point when I felt like I didn't want to keep reading. In fact, I read the whole book over a 12-hour span!

The greatest thing I learned from this book is that some stories sound cliche, but if the writer is as talented as Elisa Lorello, they can still use a cliche to send a powerful message about self discovery. I really enjoyed Lorello's writing, especially that there was more symbolism than I would expect from a book in this genre. I can't wait to read more of her work!

Bottom Line: Read this book if you want an easy, relaxing read that won't make you feel guilty for gushing like a girl because it's smarter than your average chick-lit romance novel. // 4/5 stars (general) but 5/5 stars in the chick lit romance genre.

P.S. I was so excited to find out that this book has a sequel, Ordinary World, which I'll be reviewing later this week. Read Faking It now because the next review will contain spoilers for this book (don't worry, I'll warn you again!).


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