Title: The Art of Love
Author: Anne Whitney
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Here is the kind of book that I love, all faults considered part of the art. Here’s one of the few NA books I’d prefer to read, and re-read, stuff in your face. Granted I haven’t read many, but from Vain to Ten Tiny Breaths to a half-hearted attempt with Easy, and a few terrible others(I decided to forgo the classics, including Walking Disaster), and they have been experience enough. New Adult’s pretty much a genre that I tread into on light steps, and with proportionately heavy recommendations. Yet with The Art of Love, I flipped caution to the bird, and it proved to be a good gamble, considering it isn’t hugely popular(it should be). A panicky part of me believes it’s a good thing, because there are lots of things that could turn readers away and, in all fairness, almost did me in as well. But hey, I’m here now, about to sing praises and all that jazz, so obviously I’m not complaining too much.
The Art of Love is, as the title suggests, about the art of loving yet the romance, while a significant part, isn’t mostly what this book is about. It contains the words and lives and fears of a girl, a woman, as she arrives in New York, following her to late night nudist art shows, to wacky haircuts, to her first kiss. Watching and waiting for her to break as she is wrapped up in a new scarf when she hasn’t let of the past one; as she becomes someone new, having barely known who she was before. It’s the story of a child forcing herself to get out from the closet, from under the bed, where the monsters play with her.
The art is in Marina’s courage, and her struggle; it’s that she chooses to be herself, it’s her trying to find whether she is Marina Phillips or Mary Fenton, and it’s about making your own life amidst circumstances as hers, and surrounded by a cast as such: Fitz, a pretentious artist trying to find his own art, with old habits getting in the way; Viridian, the one who’s struggling to pay the day with art that consumes her and still not making it; and Derek, the drag queen I don’t have much about. Derek seems to have it easiest, or so it seems in the book, as there’s very little said about his own demons, but I actually think it was a genius move. They all crouch behind some canvas or other face, grasped by a perpetual dolor. These aren’t caricatures, or characters of one belief. Viridian isn’t all a woman who immediately makes besties with Marina, and fixes her hairs and clothes; Fitz isn’t all a
bwoken toy broken hot man; and Derek isn’t a stereotyp- well, uh… he kinda is. I mean, sorta, there’s more but ugh! just read the book and see for yourself how fantastic he truly is.
There are two sides to this story: one of Marina and her past, and the other of her future. It’s a fabulous book in terms of what I think New Adult should be, since while it tells of Marina as she grows out of and away from lifelong trauma, it’s also about a young woman asserting herself in the world. Probably one of the best things was that the hideousness of Marina’s past was never trivialized or overly simplified, not seen as something to be fixed or solved, but something that happened, and might once again.
The writing is first-person present yet, occasionally, comes a sentence or two in simple past, and not in some artistic way, or something to be blamed on poetic license; they’re simply mistakes, and I would have liked to see fewer.
I can see echoes of the eager to please teenage boy in the baggy suit sitting in front of me, the sketchy form of the young man he used to be. Maybe he still was that boy.
However, all in all, the writing makes a great impact in bringing sentiment to the story, and it was immensely readable.
And oh, Fitz oh! Just how their relationship makes my head spin! It’s sweet and full of mistakes and once-more’s, the kind of love story that I want to ship, but I pursue warily for fear that it will not end well. Ms Whitney did a great job of making me lose all my wishes, but I won’t spoil it(duh) and tell you how it ends.
A few other things I didn’t like: the lack of NY vibes. I mean, your story is set in New-fucking-York, there’s so much for a setting there, why not use it a bit? A personal gripe of mine is that sometimes, it’s alright for people to be bad and not be religious fanatics. I hope you get what I mean. Thirdly: I wouldn’t call it using shock tactics, but the major bad stuff happens in the story right after the going gets good, as if to make the most deliberate and significant of impacts, which made the story seem a bit too structured for my tastes. The story goes all over the place in the middle, and almost turned me off. Those weren’t good times. Lastly, the epilogue was sorta trite, rom-com-type, but you know what? I liked it.
There’s supposed to be a sequel set for 2014, The Price of Love, but this one ended at a great note so I’m not sure yet if I’ll read it. Probably, but no guarantees.
I don’t know if I did a good job of selling this book to you, and if I did, whether you’ll like it, but them’s my two cents on The Art of Love.
[and ohhellelllelelelel i love zat cover. i think it’s the perfect cover for this story, and for some unknown reason makes me wanna read Come See About Me. weird to a T.]