Saturday, May 1, 2021

White Fur by Jardine Libaire


I bought WHITE FUR ages ago when it was on sale because I thought the summary sounded great but I didn't read it until now. This is a moody, gritty story set in New York in the 1980s. The heroine is a half-white/half-Puerto Rican girl who ends up falling for the WASP-y heir to a banking empire. Their ill-fated romance starts out as a purely physically-based obsession and ends up, maybe, becoming something more. But nobody is rooting for them except themselves.

For 90% of this book, I was thinking this would be a five-star read. The prose is SO lush and descriptive. You know the kind of writing that manages to be novel and interesting without being ridiculous? I found myself reading passages over and over, seething with writerly envy, and thinking, "I want to be YOU when I grow up." I mean, the writing is seriously a cut above and so evocative of the time (the 80s) and the place (grungy New York). I literally could envision all of the sights, sounds, and tastes, and it's so rare to find an author who can make their writing so transportive on such a sensory level.

And then the last 10% happens. I saw other reviewers complaining about this also, and while it didn't bother me quite as much, it definitely left me with the impression that the author maybe had some uncertainties over how to end her book. After an acid trip gone wrong, things derail quite completely and there's all this incorrect scare tactic stuff about ECT and acid that made me roll my eyes. As a psychology major, reading stuff like that is like going to a cocktail party and hearing someone tell you that humans only use 10% of their brains (false), or that they know someone with Alexandria's Genesis (an urban legend that seems to have been cribbed from very old fanfiction).

I still really loved the book, even if I hated the ending and felt like it was a bit of a cop-out after that truly wicked prologue and the great build-up. I would read anything else this author wrote, especially if it was set in the 1980s, but also because I just really like her style. In many ways, this book reminded me a lot of Susie Yang's WHITE IVY, although I don't think that Libaire quite dared rise to the sheer, devastating brutality of Yang, even though the two books share many similar themes and if you like one, you'll probably enjoy the other.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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