True by Erin McCarthy ( tweet | web )
Publication Date: 5/7/2013
Publisher: Penguin Intermix
Target audience: New adult (mature young adult)
Keywords: virginity, family problems, college
You should know: Sexual situations, drug use are involved.
Format read: eBook provided by publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Rory has never had an easy time meeting guys but when Tyler starts to show interest she thinks things are turning around. Until she overhears that her best friends paid him to rid Rory of her virginity once and for all. Was she wrong about him? Tyler, on the other hand, is trying his hardest to get a handle on his school work, get a job, and be able to usurp his kid brothers from his druggie mom. He knows he’ll never be good enough for Rory but cannot stay away…
I went into True with a very open mind. But my mind gradually began to close as early as the first chapter when Rory is the victim of a sexual assault. Her friends do not respond by throwing this asshole out of the apartment or even genuinely consoling Rory. Instead, Tyler (her future love interest) offers her a beer and punches the asshole out because he kicked Rory. Nothing about the actions of her crowd felt emphatically appalled.
But I continued on, giving True a chance to redeem itself. I found myself very caught up in Tyler and Rory’s chemistry — the bad boy and the smart college gal; opposites attract and all that — even though Tyler has been in a friends-with-benefits situation with one of Rory’s friends. They start to help each other out in school (he’s a pro at English and she’s great at science and math) and Rory finds herself sharing inside info with him about her life that she always keeps to herself.
Just when things start to get good, Rory finds out that her best friends paid Tyler money to sleep with her. I mean — can you imagine? Is virginity THAT horrible? Is that really the best SOLUTION that Rory’s friends come up with to solve this problem? (Their thought, not mine.) Again, I was seriously questioning why Rory was friends with these girls to begin with. If they weren’t going to accept Rory’s choices, I wish that she would have at least stood up for herself. (Though, I am happy to report Rory doesn’t rush into sex after all of this pressure from her friends either.)
Even though she attempts to ignore Tyler, Rory soon finds herself caught up in him and his entire family situation: young siblings who are stuck with their druggie mother. Tyler is determined to get his associates degree, become an EMT, and take custody of his siblings away from his mother. McCarthy brings a ton of personality to the story with the introduction of Tyler’s brothers and I enjoyed their scenes so much. Tyler’s loyalty and his determination to take care of them were his most attractive qualities.
Like Tyler’s brothers, my favorite parts of True were Rory’s video chats with her dorky (yet adorable) dad and even her science nerdiness. (Reminded me of Anatomy of a Single Girl.) I wish there had been more emphasis on these details, instead of the more infuriating ones. I haven’t read a ton of new adult books yet, but I can see the “guilty pleasure” pull of it. The sex, the attraction, the drama! It’s definitely all here in True, but it’s also hard for me to ignore the very serious situations that were repeatedly swept under the rug.
Reading True was a bit like suspending reality with the added task of forgetting my own morals. For this reason, I am so curious about New Adult and its growing popularity. I don’t necessarily read romance novels for their complex plotlines or character development but, instead, to watch two characters fall in love. So I’m left to wonder what role does New Adult play in our reading lives?