Series: Losing It, #3
Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: 4 stars
Word Rating: Angsty Goodness
Reviewed by: Kate
Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She's having the time of her life...or that's what she keeps telling herself.
It's a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you're afraid you won't like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey's loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey's mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.
If I believed the stories I learned growing up, God made the world in six days and on the seventh day he rested. I wonder if, like me, the eighth day was when he watched it all begin to unravel.
New Adult is a tough genre. Almost every book that falls into it feels like a bit of a redheaded stepchild; too mature to be classified as Young Adult, but not written well enough to be considered Contemporary Romance. Easy is a notable exception, as are The Sea of Tranquility, Unteachable, Sophie Jordan's upcoming Foreplay, and Samantha Young's On Dublin Street series.
But the reigning queen of NA--the author who most consistently, time and again, writes sweet, sexy stories about lovely, complicated young women and men--is absolutely Cora Carmack. And she's done it again with Finding It, an exciting, angsty story that follows Kelsey (friend of Bliss and Cade, protagonists of of Losing It and Faking it, respectively) on a backpacking trip through Europe.
When we meet Kelsey, the classic Poor Little Rich Girl (gorgeous, useless, and with a metric shit-ton of daddy's money to play with), she's two weeks into her laze across Eastern Europe. She spends her time sleeping, drinking too much, and having sex with random dudes who don't speak English, and she isn't particularly fussed about any of it. She is just generally an unlikeable, wounded waste of a meat puppet. The night Kelsey meets Jackson, a gorgeous, ex-military enigma of a man, she's out at a club with her sexy, non-english-speaking friends. She drinks too much and pukes in the street, then disgustingly tries to make out with Jackson when he walks her home.
***TIME OUT. Cora Carmack, I'd like to take a moment to thank you for knowing that unbrushed teeth and puke breath are absolutely disgusting. Why do authors forget this? Why do they think that a quick rinse of the mouth with a swig of water is enough to get rid of bile? IT ISN'T. IT REALLY, REALLY ISN'T. Time in.***
Kelsey and Jackson begin to accidentally bump into each other around Budapest. Their relationship progresses slowly until suddenly it doesn't, and they find themselves thrust together on a train crossing the continent. They travel from Hungary through Austria, bungee jumping and hiking until they hit a tiny, romantic town in Italy where they hunker down and pretend their fledgling romance isn't absolutely doomed.
While the stuff between the two of them is great--it really, really is--and while I adore Jackson as a character, Kelsey is what makes this book shine for me. She's hideously spoiled, but she knows it, and she understands how she is perceived, and while she wants desperately to grow, she doesn't know how to initiate that process. Early in the novel, she encounters The Shoes on the Danube Promenade, and her bullshit worries and entitlement hit her pretty hard. As Kelsey puts it,
I felt like such a failure. Every shoe before me represented a dream that would never be lived, a life that would never be loved. I'd never faced that kind of oppression or struggle.
This place bled with history and tragedy, and in comparison it made the wounds of my past seem like scratches.
And this is why I love Kelsey. She's so hopelessly broken in such a pathetic way, but she WANTS to be a better person. She WANTS to grow. And I think that's a powerful message to send to kids. Personal growth is hard, and it's painful, and it involves a certain amount of uncomfortable introspection, but it is absolutely essential to becoming a true adult.
Finding It is a more grown-up novel than the first two books in the series. The characters share Cormack's trademark repartee, but there's a bite to it here, an edge that didn't exist in the first two books, and for the first time in the series we're confronted with main characters who are a little bit difficult to love.
But I do love them. I really, really do. And I cannot wait to see what Carmack has in store for us next. I'm a fan for life.