Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: "Letting Go" (Jessica Ruddick)

Nothing's ever as easy as we wish it could be, and no one knows that better than Corinne Elliott. She's a control freak, to put it mildly, and obsessive with everything from neatness to her grades to her schedule. Maybe she got that way in part because her high school boyfriend was killed in a terrible car accident after they'd been together for years.

Then she gets a call just before she starts back at college for pre-law. Tyler's death wasn't an accident; he committed suicide.

With the revelation, Cori spirals out of control, jeopardizing her sanity, her scholarships, her degree program, her friendships, her family relationships, and almost everything else in her guilt. She was the last person Tyler spoke to before he died. Was it her fault he killed himself?

Now faced with a ton of new sorority sisters, a year-long match-up with the Beta Phi fraternity on campus, the unbelievably sexy Beta Phi pledge manager Luke Evans, and a sudden lack of college tuition money for her coursework, Cori finds herself buried beneath the craziest schedule ever, too-high expectations, perfectionism, and crushing guilt.

What would the perfect, in-control girl she used to be do? Can she ever get back to that place, or is it best for her to learn to ... let go?

It's with tremendous pleasure and delight that I introduce to you Letting Go, just released from Entangled Publishing's Embrace imprint, by author (and 2014 Golden Heart finalist for this work) Jessica Ruddick.

New Adult fiction is becoming all the rage, meeting the needs and exploring the lives of those readers too old to be reading YA and too young to be concerned with a lot of "adult" issues. These are the young professionals, the college students, those who are just out of high school (until about age 25) finding their way in the world, experiencing a lot of "firsts," from first time away from home to first sexual relationship and everything in between.

In my experience, with the New Adult fiction I've read and reviewed, the genre tends to be extremely well-written, fast-paced, fascinating, packed with intriguing, genuine characters whose lives showcase the realities faced by young people today. No sugar-coating here --- just raw, honest, authentic, believable people trying to fulfill their dreams and heal from their brokenness, whatever theirs may be.

For Cori in Letting Go, the brokenness is guilt and fear over her boyfriend's suicide. She's driven to keep a tight hold on every aspect of her life, almost to the point of obsessive-compulsive or neurotic, and the motivation is quite clear: if she keeps everything structured, and where it belongs, she won't have to stop and wonder about what really happened to Tyler that night, or whether she could have saved him.

That kind of blatant, overwhelming emotion might make for melodrama in the hands of anyone but an expert author, and Ruddick delivers with grace, aplomb, and even compassion for what Cori is going through. Nothing gets easier for the well-meaning protagonist until everything gets harder, but because Cori is so sweet and trying so hard to function in the wake of this horrific devastation, we can't help but immediately fall in love with her.

While the work is written from Cori's first-person perspective, giving readers a close point of view from which to really feel what she's feeling and think what she's thinking alongside her, other characters are equally compelling, especially Cori's best friend Amber and the Beta with whom Cori eventually (albeit reluctantly) falls in love, Luke. Each plays an important role in Cori's life, and sometimes more than one role, from sidekick to foil to antagonist, by turns.

Finally, the dialogue is quick, snappy, even snarky (but with less edgy sarcasm than some) and highly entertaining, especially between Amber and Cori, or between Cori and Luke. The physical side of Cori's relationship with Luke, such as it is, is handled with delicacy; you're well aware that there's attraction and unfulfilled desire there, but when it comes to the actual activities, Ruddick refreshingly opts to leave the details to readers' imaginations, making this work a standout in terms of readability.

Part coming-of-age, part romance, all real-world struggles and triumphs, Letting Go is a work you'll absolutely want to have in your collection!

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Author: Jessica Ruddick
Title: Letting Go
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Embrace)
ISBN: 978-1-63375-268-9
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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