WHITE FUR: A NOVEL,
BY JARDINE LIBAIRE
PUBLICATION: HOGARTH: MAY 30, 2017
About the book: A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City
When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.
The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.
White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.
Definitely, the most unique novel I’ve read this year, White Fur is the upcoming novel from author Jardine Libaire about two young adults from opposite sides of the track falling in love in the 1980’s. Elise grew up in a low-income, drug-filled household until she finally took off and ended up in New Haven. When Robbie discovered her sleeping in her white fur coat in the back of a car, he invited her to come home and live with him. Elise’s next door neighbors are two rich boys named Jamey and Matt that are attending Yale. Both are from wealthy and affluent families, expected to do great things in life. Elise is mixed-race, masculine in her walk and attitude, and does not censor anything she wishes to say. After meeting, Jamey and Elise can’t stop thinking about one another, even though Jamey has no idea why. Slowly, their relationship evolves from casual sex to an almost obsession to be together, despite the criticism Jamey receives from family and friends.
Elise was a very unique and well-developed character, although I personally was not able to relate to her. She took off on her own when she couldn’t take the drama and heartbreak of her home life, luckily met and moved in with Robbie, then went to work at a pet store. Once she met Jamey, however, basically all of her thoughts and actions revolved around thinking about and/or being with Jamey.
Jamey was more relatable in a way, yet also had a very nonchalant attitude about his wealth and the expectations that accompanied being a part of his family. His actress mother had limited contact with him over the years, but his Dad almost seemed to try too hard in maintaining a father/son relationship. Immediately the author reveals that Jamey is not the typical, rich Yale student, but instead, he doesn’t know what he wants. Jamey spends a lot of time in the novel just trying to feel something real and to discover something that moves him.
Libaire paints a perfect picture of the internal and external conflict among the characters in White Fur. Not only are Elise and Jamey dealing with their own issues regarding being from different races and different backgrounds, they also face criticism from Jamey’s friends and family – which leads to several drastic measures. Jamey’s thoughts about Elise go back and forth between love and disgust as he battles his own prejudices, but I would like to think that he truly loved her. Several times I found myself cringing at his thoughts about her, but the raw and honest emotions and thoughts added to the value of this novel.
I really struggled with Elise not standing up for herself at times, knowing that she had to realize the things Jamey thought or felt, but perhaps Elise knew more than I did and that his negative thoughts were just a reaction to what his family wanted, rather than what he truly felt.
This is not a quick, light-hearted read, but instead is a novel filled with characters and events that require thoughtful consideration. I found the writing to be outstanding and the story unlike anything I have read. Whether you love or hate the characters, after finishing this novel you will feel as if you know them inside and out. There is nothing that Elise and Jamey do not reveal about themselves in this roller coaster ride of a love story. Bravo to the author for creating such a unique and consuming novel!
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!