May 8, 2015

Why Elisa Lorello's Novels are So Re-Readable

Language is not unlike art in that words contain values of lights and darks, hues and tonalities, texture and sensuality. Words can paint complex pictures.

Title: Faking It / Andi & Dev Series
Author: Elisa Lorello
Genre: (Smart) Chick Lit / Women's Fiction
Rating: A
Recommended For: Female readers looking for something light, fun but smart and deep as well!
Source: My personal library

One-sentence review: Intelligent chick lit is difficult to find, but you will fall in love with Andi's adventures through love, loss and love again in my favorite women's fiction series ever! 

TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

 photo FakingIt_BookCover_zps0afba89d.jpg  photo 18318647_zpsfb2114f3.jpg

I have good intentions of re-reading far too many books. Sometimes I want to dub an entire year, "Danielle's Year of Re-Reads!" I used to think it would be impossible to re-read a book because knowing what happens would ruin the ending. But that's not the case. When a book is re-read worthy it's because it transports you into a new world and gives you feelings you want to be surrounded by. If you're not a serious reader you might not understand, but if you do understand then this post is definitely worthwhile.

One book I find myself re-reading every single year is Faking It by Elisa Lorello. Lorello has become one of my favorite authors since I first read Faking It in 2012 (the year after it came out) and one of the few authors whom I will read a book the minute it comes out (or sooner, thanks to ARCs)! There's a feeling Lorello constructs when I read her books; something comfortable and warm but not cheesy with simple solutions to fairly typical chick lit problems. That's what keeps me coming back to her novels and what keeps me re-reading them, too.

It's been over a year since Lorello released her last novel She Has Your Eyes, the third part of the series that starts off with Faking It, but it feels like it's been so much longer than that for me! So this year when I was in a sort-of reading rut, I decided to throw all my TBRs out the window and re-read all three novels in this series from start to finish! It was just what I needed and I'm hoping I can convince you that you might need it, too.

If you want my first-read reviews for the novels, you can find them here: Faking It - Ordinary World and She Has Your Eyes. Those reviews are spoiler-free, but I'm going to keep this one a little more open, more of a discussion. I don't usually do this, but since I've already reviewed these books before, I think it's fair. Besides, my review for the second and third books would already spoil the first and second anyway. ;) Similarly, I'm not going to spend time on synopses of the books.

So I repeat, this review/discussion MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. If you haven't read these books, I'd rather you go read them than finish reading this blog. That's how much I heart them.

When I considered why I gravitate back to these novels, especially Faking It, I found that there's something about the realistic essence of the characters Lorello crafts that I can not only love but also intrinsically relate to. Andi and Dev are why I read and re-read and tell everyone to read these novels. They are real, they are flawed and they feel like people I would want to know or become. The characters have realistic flaws and come up with realistic solutions. Even if the idea of a professor and a prostitute exchanging services doesn't seem real, it won't sound weird once you jump in. Rather than a story about sex, Faking It is a story about identity and boundaries, especially the identities we fake to enforce the boundaries we keep. That's something more people can relate to than are willing to admit and a subject matter I feel Lorello attacks with fun but smart fervor through her emotionally complex characters.

When I re-read Ordinary World this year it was my first time re-reading it after losing somebody I love. Almost a year ago my grandpa, who was my father-figure growing up, passed away. Even though it's nothing like the loss Andi experiences in Ordinary World, I was much better able to appreciate the ebb and flow of  her grief. Andi goes back and forth in this book between feeling like she can't go on and feeling like she can tolerate life. When I first read this book it got somewhat frustrating because it was hard to see the shape of the book's arc. But I get it now and I love how Lorello can really bring reality to things that are so difficult to articulate. Somehow she uses words to construct a world of feelings without telling you how to feel as a reader. I love that.

And can we talk about how swoon-worthy Lorello's male characters are? Somehow Sam is made to be greater than Dev through the loss of him. Even without giving forward movement to his character in this second book, we fall in love with him as Andi mourns him and that just gutted me. Which means, of course, I was able to feel Andi's loss even more acutely. But don't discount Dev, because he's still one of the best romantic male characters ever. Readers get to see a new vulnerable side of Dev in Ordinary World which only increases his value. Neither Sam or Dev are perfect, but its their flaws that make them feel almost tangible and their humanity that makes me appreciate them more.

I'm going to be honest with you: She Has Your Eyes was difficult for me to re-read. I don't like Dev in most this book. More accurately, I don't like how Dev isolates Andi in this book. It was harder for me to relate to Andi not standing up for herself when I thought she deserved to. Perhaps it's because this book is so convicting that Andi is more easily forgiving than I am. There are also a lot of not-nice or not easily-lovable characters in this one. That's of course not to say that I don't love the book, but perhaps it was too real for me. Ironically, the first time I picked up an Elisa Lorello book was to escape the reality of a similar family drama that was happening in my life, so I suppose I should laugh at how this series has truly come full circle for me!

Of course, I still highly recommend She Has Your Eyes, it's a truly wonderful book no matter how my emotions mangle my re-reading experience. Andi's growth with her mother is especially notable and will make re-reading the other two books even more fascinating. Similarly, somehow Lorello makes Sam even more missed in this book with stories we haven't heard about him. And as with the other books in the series, Lorello structures this one in a beautiful symmetry that can only be truly appreciated the second time around. I would like to think it's not just me, but these books have so many things that make me happy to read them.

Of course, no series is perfect (except maybe Harry Potter). Some of the things Andi does, says, and thinks, are pretty awkward and there can be generational gaps that separate this series apart from New Adult readers. But it's obviously not a deal-breaker. And some of the awkwardness or references made for teens-of-the-80s just add to the humanity and personalization of the characters. I wouldn't feel like a legitimate book reviewer if I didn't mention those things that I noted in a somewhat negative light, especially because I want to reinforce that I'm not getting paid, bribed or blackmailed to write this bonus review.

My only huge complaint isn't directed at Elisa Lorello, but toward Hollywood: When is Faking It going to be a movie starring Ian Somerhalder as Dev? I cannot think of a better Devin or David, even if Sam is supposed to look like a young Rob Lowe and Ian Somerhalder is essentially a young Rob Lowe. I. don't. care. Somerhalder's smooth, cocky attitude coupled with his sweet nature make him perfect. #IanAsDev should be thing we start, yeah? ;)

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