Easy by Tammara Webber [ TW: RAPE ]2
Author: Tammara Webber
Publication Date: May 24th, 2012
Rating: 3 stars
I didn’t pay enough attention to the synopsis, as I went into Easy thinking it was more of a drama about a girl dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault as opposed to a romance. I tend to avoid books in which the plot is essentially a love story, and had I known what Easy really was, I would have definitely skipped it over. I’m thankful that I was under the wrong impression, because Easy was fabulous, heartfelt, and made me sob while reading it in the bathtub!
Easy begins with Jacqueline being attacked by an acquaintance that has always seemed like a decent sort of guy, and the only reason he didn’t succeed in his attempted rape is because a fellow student beats him up. Alarm bells immediately went off when Lucas, Jacqueline’s savior, berates her for not paying enough attention to her surroundings. If there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s victim-blaming, and so I was prepared to wade through yet another book that makes it seem like the victim’s responsibility not to be attacked. Fortunately, this heartless remark is just thanks to Lucas being a flawed character, and the narrative is certainly not one that blames the victim.
After the initial attack, the book goes into romance territory, and Jacqueline deals with her attraction to Lucas in an attempt to get over her long-time boyfriend, Kennedy. Although Jacqueline does eventually deal with the aftermath of the attack (and must try to avoid her attacker, Buck, following her and attempting to assault her again), the book primarily focuses on the romance and relationships between the characters. Despite romance being the overall plot, it is the handling of the attempted rape that made me love this book. Had it been less of a romance, I’m sure I would have loved it even more, and it would have received at least four stars.
With that said, the romance was well-done, and I was rooting for Lucas and Jacqueline to get together and make it work. For those who are fans of romance with a tortured love interest, I’m sure they would love this book, and probably adore Lucas. The characters were well-rounded and believable, with my favorite being that of Jacqueline’s roommate and unlikely best friend: Erin, the peppy, badass cheerleader who helps Jacqueline not blame herself for Buck’s actions, and who loves to injure the groin of potential rapists.
When Easy goes back to being a story about rape, it does it so, so well. This comes full circle in the last portion of the book, when a young girl, Mindy, is raped by Buck. Jacqueline had previously decided not to go to the police when she was attacked, but now that there is another victim, Erin convinces both Mindy and Jacqueline to speak up about their attacks. Fiction mirrors real-life in the way that other characters react to this: many people do not believe them for a variety of reasons, from the fact that they weren’t virgins to the fact that Buck was a popular guy who seemed perfectly nice.
Jacqueline defends herself, and she finds an unlikely ally in one of the sorority sisters. It was this part of the book that made me cry, when some of the girls make it clear what the message of this book is: victim-blaming is not okay. Rape is never anyone’s fault but the rapists. The victim has no obligation to not be attacked, it is the attacker who is at fault. Nothing but “yes” gives consent: not having consented before, not not being a virgin, not drinking, not knowing the guy, nothing but “yes”.
The other frat brothers want to deal with the situation internally by expelling him from school and not allowing him to return to the fraternity. Thankfully, Easy says “this is not enough.” Buck is a rapist, he needs to actually be punished, not just pulled from an activity or school. That doesn’t save any future victims. That doesn’t really punish him. And so the girls press real charges, they don’t go to a tribunal of students to give him a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, again in a case of fiction mirroring reality, Buck doesn’t get a long sentence, but it’s more than he would have gotten had they not pressed charges.
Easy had another flaw, and that was that some of the built-up conflict was dealt with too quickly and too conveniently. But this is the only flaw worth mentioning (other than the fact that I had wanted less romance and more plot), and all-in-all, this was a successful book with true heart and emotion. The message was spot on and was something we don’t hear nearly enough. If you love romance with a plot: please, please read Easy. You won’t be disappointed.