Size Doesn’t Matter (156): The Go-Between; Finding It

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (156): The Go-Between; Finding ItThe Go-Between by Veronica Chambers
Narrator: Karla Souza
Length: 5 hrs, 30 mins
Published by Listening Library on May 9, 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Fans of Jane the Virgin will find much to love about this coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Veronica Chambers, who with humor and humanity explores issues of identity and belonging in a world that is ever-changing.

She is the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City. Her mother is a glamorous telenovela actress. Her father is the go-to voice-over talent for blockbuster films. Hers is a world of private planes, chauffeurs, paparazzi and gossip columnists. Meet Camilla del Valle Cammi to those who know her best.

When Cammi s mom gets cast in an American television show and the family moves to LA, things change, and quickly. Her mom s first role is playing a not-so-glamorous maid in a sitcom. Her dad tries to find work but dreams about returning to Mexico. And at the posh, private Polestar Academy, Cammi s new friends assume she s a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic.

At first Cammi thinks playing along with the stereotypes will be her way of teaching her new friends a lesson. But the more she lies, the more she wonders: Is she only fooling herself?

Based on the chilly reception The Go-Between is receiving, this may be one of those instances where the audiobook makes all the difference. Souza’s narration is delightful and engaging, and I enjoyed the heck out of listening to this book.

The biggest issue here is the premise of The Go-Between, which is both problematic and unconcinving. Camilla del Valle’s mom is a telenovela star, and their family is incredibly wealthy and famous. When Cammi’s mom gets a role in Hollywood, the family decamps to Beverly Hills. At her new school, Cammi ends up pretending to be a poor scholarship student after her friends assume that must be the case because she’s Mexican. On the one hand, it’s not that convincing because Cammi doesn’t do a great job pretending, and it’s also just an absurd thing to do, though Chambers does establish why Cammi wants to be “normal.” Cammi does get called out on the problematic nature of what she’s done, and it’s sort of the whole point, but yeah it is problematic.

The novel shines most in Cammi’s relationships with her family members, which are very sweet. I loved how thoughtful The Go-Between is about telenovelas and Bollywood films, capturing their essence without judgment and appreciating the ways in which the over-the-top storytelling really works. Cammi’s famous parents are truly involved in her life, and the family is very loving, which is rare to see when the characters are famous.

The LA school, Polestar Academy, is like a caricature of a hippy dippy LA school. There’s a class that’s run like a Native American tribal council with a “talking stick” and choruses of “A-ho.” I mean, maybe this happens in LA, but :/. The book’s primarily about racism, primarily through microaggressions and stereotypes, so there’s a lot of that going on in here. I think the book makes it’s point, but it’s not particularly subtle and would have worked better with better characterization for the secondary characters.

There’s a lot that I liked about this book, but I definitely get why it’s getting a poor reception. I’m aware of the flaws, but the audiobook was great.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (156): The Go-Between; Finding ItFinding It by Cora Carmack
Series: Losing It #3
Published by William Morrow on October 15, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 311
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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two-stars

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong...

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.

Despite my massive love for Losing It and Faking It, I put off reading Finding It. I’d heard it was less shippy and more typically NA, so I wasn’t that excited. Those instincts were correct.

Finding It very much fits with standard NA, and it’s also problematic in a number of ways. While I did still find it readable, unlike some of her more recent stuff, I found myself cringing quite a bit. What I liked the most, I think, was that Finding It does flip the typical gender dynamics of NA, with Kelsey as the over-sexed person afraid of commitment and fascinated by the one guy to turn her down.

Unfortunately, Jackson’s still an alpha dick, who’s drumbeat is that he doesn’t care what she needs. Yes, it’s because she’s fucked up and what she thinks she needs is terrible for her, but just ick. There’s also the increasingly obvious fact that Jackson’s lying to her about something, so you just have to sit back and wait for that to hit, and it’s inevitably terrible.

Kelsey’s back story is tragic and sympathetic, but I really don’t think a sexy romance novel is the place to tackle sexual abuse. It made a lot of the sexy scenes massively creepy. For example, the scene where someone random roofies Kelsey in a bar. Jackson takes her back to his hotel and has to undress her because she was in a wet swimsuit. He doesn’t do anything, because consent, but Kelsey keeps trying to get him to and it’s all described in this hyper-sexualized, titillating manner that just made me uncomfortable.

Similarly, when she starts acknowledging her sexual assault when she was a pre-teen, she starts feeling uncomfortable with all sex. Jackson doesn’t know that, and there are few scenes with him that end up feeling vaguely rapey, as she’s trying to escape sex but afraid to talk about it. Were all of this not happening in a romance novel and if it weren’t alongside the desire to make everything super sexy, it might have been okay, but it ends up being super uncomfortable and feeling a bit like fixing mental health issues with romance.

I can’t really recommend Finding It. There were some things I liked about it, but I think Carmack tried to handle way too much dark stuff in what is ultimately a sex-filled romance, which made the tone uneven and uncomfortable.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (156): The Go-Between; Finding It”

  1. Deyse says:

    Yeah, I heard some pretty similar things about Finding It and it makes me sad, since the first two were quite fun reads I actually already started this one last year but couldn’t finish until now, I think it’s time to stop lying to myself and release I’m not gonna finish this one ever

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