Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good For You by Tammara Webber

Why I read it: I read an early copy of Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) recently (soooo good) and I wasn't ready to leave New Adult for something else - I also wanted to read something I'd been saving for a rainy day, so I opened Good for You, a book I'd bought last year at the same time as Easy.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  Reid Alexander's life is an open book. His Hollywood celebrity means that everything he does plays out in the public eye. Every relationship, every error in judgment is analyzed by strangers. His latest mistake totaled his car, destroyed a house and landed him in the hospital. Now his PR team is working overtime to salvage his image. One thing is clear—this is one predicament he won’t escape without paying for it.

Dori Cantrell is a genuine humanitarian—the outward opposite of everything Reid is about. When his DUI plea bargain lands him under her community service supervision, she proves unimpressed with his status and indifferent to his proximity, and he soon wants nothing more than to knock her off of her pedestal and prove she's human.

Counting the days until his month of service is over, Dori struggles to ignore his wicked magnetic pull while shocking him with her ability to see past his celebrity and challenging him to see his own wasted potential. But Dori has secrets of her own, safely locked away until one night turns her entire world upside down. Suddenly their only hope for connection and redemption hinges on one choice: whether or not to have faith in each other.

What worked for me (and what didn't): Man, I loved this book. It was beautiful, heartwrenching, unexpected and bittersweet.  Never fear - there is a happy ending, but not everything in this book is hearts and roses and not everything is miraculously resolved.

The writing is beautiful, the characterisations clever and nuanced, the style spare and direct, while at the same time, leading the reader up to the door of various concepts/conclusions but leaving them for the reader to ponder rather than swinging a heavy hammer.

One of the main themes, I think is faith, although this is not at all a preachy book.  Dori, is a PK (Pastor's Kid) and far from being the usual rebel you read about in fiction (and see in real life too), she's "practically perfect in every way" (she even has a Mary Poppins bag).  But she has secrets and pain which is slowly revealed throughout the book and even before we know that, she is not a boor or boring.  She doesn't drink or swear, she loves to do good.  She helps in Vacation Bible School, goes to church twice on Sunday, helps build houses for Habitat for Humanity and goes on a yearly missions trip to a school in Ecuador.  Her parents are happily married, her older sister is a (medical) resident in Indianapolis and, despite an 8 year age difference, they are very close. On the surface, she is everything that Reid is not.
I’m never sure if Dad just has absolute confidence that I’d never do anything wicked, or if he actually thinks I should loosen up. I hope it’s not the latter, because if I’m the girl whose pastor father thinks she’s too uptight, that would be pretty darned depressing.
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 812-814).  . Kindle Edition. 

Reid is gorgeous, rich, popular and quite alone.  His father manages his money but that is about the extent of their relationship.  Dad is largely absent and when he's present, he's disapproving.  Reid's mother is an alcoholic, who's failed at rehabilitation three times.  Reid is actually the classic abandoned child - it's just that he has more money than most and his vices reflect that. He's arrogant and flip (the only thing he's serious about is his work) and he doesn't usually turn down the hordes of women throwing themselves at him on a regular basis.   But, he's got no anchor.  No purpose.  At the start of the book, he crashed his car through someone's house when he's driving drunk - not because he wants to kill himself but because he doesn't care.
I mean, there’s a difference between being suicidal and not giving a shit if you live or die. Right?
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Location 212).  . Kindle Edition.

Reid is not super nice at the start of the book.  For the most part, no one calls him on his bad behaviour - he's used to getting away with anything and everything.  Dori, is a "nice girl", a "good girl".  She doesn't fall at his feet and she's not taken in by his looks or his fame.  More as a way to fend of boredom than anything else when he commences his community service at Habitat for Humanity (helping to build a house for the family he displaced when he drove his car into their rental property), he tries hard to get a rise out of Dori at every turn.  Dori has a tell and he picks up on it very quickly.
She doesn’t reply, but her ears go pink. Score.
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 327-328).  . Kindle Edition.
I hazard a glance at Dori, who’s staring daggers into me. I swear if we were within striking distance and she had a plastic fork in her hand, I’d be concerned. Instead of returning her heated expression, I keep the grin affixed to my face and add a sardonic air to it—one eyebrow arched, indifferent eyes. This look has been refined to perfection over many years with Dad. Sends him through the goddamned roof. Does it work on Dorcas? 
Oh, yes. Yes, it does.
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 748-752).  . Kindle Edition.  

Dori's history is both raw and painfully real. Her sense of isolation, her struggle with "good"; she was much more than either Reid or I thought she was when we first met her. 

There are also themes of what is good and what difference it really makes. Is Dori, the "good girl", really good? Does it matter? If she had been better, would it have changed anything? Is everything "meant to be"? Or do we influence things? If so what is the nature of that influence? If we can make things better, we can make them worse too. How do we reconcile those things?

Dori's crisis of faith after an accident (which gutted me but which I won't spoil here) is real and familiar to me. No solutions are offered and she has a long way to go at the end to rebuild - if it can be done.

There is a beautiful and bitter irony of a "miracle" late in the book, the need for which is anything but miraculous.  Ms. Webber does no more than have the character make the statement.  The irony is there and neither Dori nor the author labours the point but it made me think of the human desire for faith in miracles, despite everything which tells us otherwise.

The picture of hope in the book, as both painful and renewing is also one that is familiar to me.

Here is something else that resonated:

The clock reads 3:11 a.m. I climb in and hesitate before moving into his arms. His hands stroke up and down my back, his lips at my hairline. I feel exactly what I felt earlier—I need him to hold me so badly that I don’t care what comes with it.
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 3898-3899).  . Kindle Edition.

The changes in Reid are slowly wrought and completely believable.  By the end of the book, he's a very different person.

Everything would be déjà vu except for this—I know how soft her hair feels when I push my fingers through it, and how it looks loose around her shoulders or flowing over my pillow while she sleeps. I know her scent, like something sweet and edible, an observation I whispered months ago when I wanted nothing more than to make her shiver from wanting me. I know her muscular shoulders and arms, her soft breasts. I know the feel of the tiny silver ring in her navel, its single heart-shaped charm brushing against the tip of my tongue. I know the firm curve of her waist, the smooth flare of her hip, the taste of her mouth. I know the feel of her losing control against me and trusting me to catch her when she comes apart. 
Even still, there’s more to this complex girl, and the physical craving I feel for her is merely an index to the rest of it. I know her patience, her kindness, her inherent desire to leave the world a better place than she found it. I’ve felt her forgiveness, her strength, and her ability to see something good in anyone. The whole of her is overwhelming, and the fact that I may have found her only to lose her scares the hell out of me.
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 4214-4222).  . Kindle Edition. 

And the changes are his changes.  As he tells Dori:

“I’ve changed since I’ve known you. Not because you made me into someone else—but because you showed me a path I’d never paid attention to, and I chose to follow it."
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 4359-4361).  . Kindle Edition. 

- which makes his change something I know will stick.  Because he chose it.  And much of it was done when Dori was absent from his life, when he was filming in Vancouver - when he had no expectation of her being in his life again. That's the kind of change I want to see in my heroes - change not dependent on someone else.

I also liked his explanation of how he could walk away from her after their time at Habitat.  It completely made sense and illustrated again Reid's journey to self awareness.

“Both of us are so good at resisting being controlled, or having any control over someone else, that we don’t know how to need and be needed. Last summer, I let myself believe I could get past what I felt for you, not because what I felt was insignificant, but because I always have.
Webber, Tammara (2011-12-15). Good For You (Between the Lines #3) (Kindle Locations 4355-4357).  . Kindle Edition.

The characters stayed with me for days after reading and I've found myself going back and reading passages in the story, while mourning and rejoicing for Dori and Reid.

To sum up, let me repeat:  I loved this book.

Grade:  A

8 comments:

Oddiophile said...

This sounds like a really good book. I'm thinking of giving it a shot in audio. Did you read the first two in this series? I kind of want to start with this one but I'm not sure how it would work as a stand-alone. Any thoughts?

Kaetrin said...

I bought this in audio format but haven't listened yet. I have the first two Between the Lines books on my TBR and I expect I will listen to GfY after reading them.

I think the book works as a stand alone (- that's how I read it and it obviously worked for me!) but I understand that the author wrote the first two books to set up Reid's character - I gather that Between the Lines is essentially Reid's story. I think you *can* read this as a stand alone but the first 2 books will give a lot more insight into Reid.

I think I had started at book 1 without believing that the book was the usual romance arc, I may have been confused and disappointed. Emma gets a romance (I gather) but it is not with Reid and Reid's romance does not happen until this book. So, if you do decide to read the books in order, I'd recommend you start from the basis that the books will not take the usual romance arc and you will be more likely to enjoy them. I also understand that the first 2 books aren't as strong - they are earlier works. I intend to read them though. Hope that helps :)

Oddiophile said...

Thanks Kaetrin, that was helpful. Although I usually prefer to read in order, I think I'll start with this one since it worked for you as a stand-alone. If I want more of the characters/writing then I'll pick up the earlier books.

Kaetrin said...

@Oddiophile. Have you read Easy? That's a stand alone. Also excellent. It's available on audio too (though I'm not familiar with the narrator).

Oddiophile said...

Kaetrin - I did read Easy (as an e-book) and I liked it although I have to admit it didn't completely blow me away, which seems to be the general consensus on that one.

I just looked at the audio version and I was caught by the fact that Tara Sands seems to be pretty tightly categorized as a YA/NA narrator. I've never listened to her before but the sample is pretty good and hey, for once they picked a really good snippet to catch a listener's interest.

I just started Good for You on audio today and, um, wow! I'm not too far in but the narration is excellent.

Kaetrin said...

@Oddiophile - that's good to know! I think I will save GfY on audio as I've only just read the book but when the narrator(s) to justice to a favoured book is always a major win. :)

Marg said...

I haven't read any of this author's books yet, but I intend to at some point. I am going to start with Easy I think.

Kaetrin said...

@Marg Easy was one of my favourites for last year. :)