Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: LOVE AND CANDY by Elizabeth Famous


LOVE AND CANDY by Elizabeth Famous
Published: 2013

PUBLISHED: JUNE 18, 2013 by The Miri Group
GENRES: NA • Contemporary • Gritty • Sexual Exploration • Soccer/Sports • Abusive Relationships • Coming of Age • Life Issues
SOURCE: eBook from Author

 (Technically 2.7 rounded to 3)

**NOTE: NOT recommended for under 17 due to explicit sexual content and abusive relationships.

OVERVIEW:
Samantha Montclare is not who she thought she was. Straitlaced and academically minded, she's knocked to her knees by an unexpected infatuation with the star of her local soccer team just as she discovers that her biological father is not the loving dad who raised her but a forbidding Italian aristocrat. 

Within the social hierarchy of a wealthy suburban high school, Delaney Troy is so superior to naive Samantha that she can't speak to him without provoking obscene taunts from his friends. 

Delaney is gorgeous, but much of Samantha's fascination stems from his brazen honesty and bristling wit. His air of confidence inspires so powerful an interest he draws her in without even looking at her.

But how could she possibly date a guy like Delaney who insists he only wants to hook up -- and doesn't believe in love?

Will the scandalous truth about the circumstances of her conception threaten her happy home life? 

Must she find a place in her life for an alarming new "father" just as she’s becoming an independent young woman?
• • • • • • • • • 
First, thank you to Elizabeth Famous for a copy of the book to review. As you all know, I ALWAYS give honest reviews and point out any and all concerns that I may have with a book. This book challenged me and made me review my thoughts and beliefs on several issues. Actually, it confirmed my beliefs. First, I must say I was completely engulfed and stayed up to 3:40 in the morning reading under the covers.

The main reason being was this: it was like watching a train wreck. You could see it coming and could only watch in horror. I had to duct tape my mouth shut so I wouldn’t wake my husband from my screaming at the characters. (Not really, but it’s a great visual anyway.) I just wanted to wring Samantha’s neck. I kept yelling at her to RUN AWAY but I guess fictional characters can’t hear me. (One day that fact will sink in, but alas not yet.) She was so dependant on someone COMPLETELY toxic.

A side rant: there are a SHOCKING number of novels today that all revolve around the same storyline.... virgin good girls lusting in a dependant and unhealthy ways over a man-whore bad boys that are relationship-phobic and abusive (emotionally or physically and/or mentally.) The said relationships are filled with overly fantasized and completely unrealistic sexual encounters, highly charged emotional abuse and commitment issues.  
In this case, Delaney was a sex addict and total douche with an overwhelming phobia of commitments and relationships. The fact that Samantha's parents were complete push overs does not lend many positive feelings to this book. Some may say that people have to experiment, let 'kids' do what they are going to do. I don’t think sixteen year old teens have a solid concept of what it all means and the ramifications of those actions. I am tired of society thinking we are complete animals with no impulse control or rational thinking. I was shocked at certain scenes that Famous wrote because you had no idea if they used protection or not. The fact that the guy was probably a walking STD and she could very likely get those or pregnant was not a good message to send. End side rant.


The idea that the girl should be strung along while the guy gets to sow his wild oats with anyone and everyone he wants to is asinine. He explicitly told her he could do whatever he wanted, with anyone he wanted and no one could tell him what to do. The fact that she told him NO in his car and he still did it anyway?!? Does anyone see how he was pressuring the CRAP out of her?!? More importantly, she couldn't open her eyes the first couple times to even watch what was happening had red flags ALL over this! 



This is a big concern for me. Young women need to know it is NOT OK to follow a boy around like a lost puppy thinking they can change him or he will suddenly realize what what a find he has been missing. That letting them take your clothes off and have sex when you don't really want to, not prepared to is SO WRONG! SO SO SO WRONG!!!! It is RAPE people. She was not ready. At all. Samantha had started to realize that but let him walk all over her anyway.

In REALITY, you can not change a person. You can not find your value and worth in another person. You will not gain any kind of connection by letting them bully you into sex. The other person needs to see how valuable you are and cherish you. THAT is the person you need to date. Not someone who's only gifts he brings over are STDs and more heartbreak. 

I found the other aspects gripping, gritty and emotional. Famous told her story with vigor, weight and depth. The pull was intense and even with my horror, aggravation and shock, I could not put the book down. Literally. 

The parents were irritating to me. More than that, they disturbed me greatly. It reminded me of the sixties generation... they were just born a few decades after their time. Their parenting skills were a disaster. The phrase "too little, too late" flashed through my mind. Consistency and in depth communication are key and unfortunately too few parents are implementing those. Even more, they wanted to know the details and enjoyment level she had during sex... at sixteen... but said she was too young and immature for a cell phone. 



Does ANYONE see how sick and twisted that is?


It was a shame that Samantha didn't have any friends. That really would have helped her. She didn't talk with anyone her age about her real feelings or got feedback. She did talk to her parents, but that felt overtly staged based on their past history. If they had had a more mainstream history, I probably would have felt less confused about it. As it was, it seemed very overly dramatized and manufactured. I felt frantic to reach out to her, she seemed so immature and naive.

Anton felt like a brick wall. I almost mistook him for a Borg. (Any STNG fans out there will get me on that one.) Another analogy would be a zombie. No feelings. No attachments. No motivations. He didn't even act like he had a pulse until the very end. It made how he acted in his past seem unbelievable.

Samantha demonstrated classic dependant and needy behavior. She made excuses for his bad behavior and lack of commitment. She stalked him, never even tried to date anyone else and whined pathetically when she scraped together an ounce of dignity. Samantha never stood up for herself, never said to herself, "I am worth it. I should be cherished and respected. I am not a blow up sex toy to be used and discarded at someone's will." She based her decisions around him and what he wanted to the point of insanity. 



Delaney was COMPLETELY self absorbed and self gratifying. Everyone has a past, everyone has had people in the past who let them down. You can not judge the human race based on one person and he did that. That was just dense and moronic. He was the classic bully and user. Delaney never even acknowledged her in front of others for most of the "relationship." He never invested in HER. No emotion, no time, no effort, no appreciation, no nothing. 



Delaney was a control freak and the way he had sex with her was just that. Sex. Not making love, not even respectful sex. She always went to him. Samantha wanted help with her soccer and he dragged her in the bushes... in a public park... in the daylight... with no blanket and HOPEFULLY used a condom. Let alone no foreplay. Delaney was arrogant, demeaning, womanizing and very disrespectful. I wanted to throw my iPad across the room SO bad... I need to go back to reading paperbacks. Sorry I digress.



The Epilogue made me conflicted. I saw Delaney had tried to grown up... sort of. However, he is still doing things based on what he feels like, not because he wants to respect her. His comment about indulging himself made me want to gouge out my eyes. The fact that Samantha only ever had sex with him drives me NUTS. That she decided he's it, not dating ANYONE else besides HIM had me tearing my hair out. PARENTS... where were you? How could you not guide her and put boundaries up?


I think if Famous had shown Delaney maturing earlier, sharing hobbies like soccer with her etc that would have made this a more level playing field. The fact that the relationship was so one sided made it hard to swallow. 

The fact that this was so honest, no frills, all cards on the table is appreciated. Famous writes in a very descriptive format that I think worked well for this format. I do think the dialogue and flow needed to be smoothed out. The POV was confusing at times. Another run through with an editor would have been useful.

I would have liked to have seen more from her parents and grandparents because I could not relate to them. I am a parent and I would drop dead before I acted like they did. Maybe learning more about them as individuals would have enriched and deepened the story. That back story could have given great insight into how they dealt with issues. As it was, I have never known any responsible parent ask their kid how they enjoyed sex but not allow the kid a cell phone. Priorities were WAY out of order. The sisters were great characters that I felt should have been given a much greater spotlight. 

This is definitely not a YA book. I hesitantly rate this a NA book. Though this is a gritty and contemporary fiction novel, it is not grounded in reality... at least not a healthy one. As someone who tries to guide young adults, I needed to fully explain myself and my reactions, along with trying to inject common sense responses to the situations. It was definitely a gripping, thought provoking and intense book that I would cautiously recommend to the 18 and older crowd. But if you read this, I recommend that you already have a firm understanding of what rape is, what is a healthy relationship and what is toxic behavior. A great book for discussion groups on the topic. I must tip my hat to Elizabeth Famous for writing a provocative and stimulating novel that gets people discussing morals and values.