White Fur by Jardine Libaire
Rating: 4 stars
I’m a sucker for star-crossed lovers, even though I hate Romeo and Juliet. I know they were of marrying age for their time, but something about 13 year olds killing themselves for “true love” just doesn’t sit right with me. Elise and Jamey are at least college aged in White Fur, which seems like a better age to find their once in a lifetime, passionate supernova of a love.
White Fur is the story of Elise and Jamey’s mismatched yet all-consuming love in 1980’s New York City. Elise lived in the projects and ran away from home as a teenager, never finishing high school. Jamey is the heir to a considerable fortune, son of an private investment banker, and checking off his expected Ivy League degree requirement at Yale. Elise grew up taking care of her siblings while her mother was on and off of drugs. Jamey was an only child raised by nannies.
Despite their wildly different backgrounds, they begin a sexual relationship that quickly turns intensely emotional for Elise. At first Jamey is put off by Elise’s background and her neediness in their arrangement, but he can’t ignore their connection. By the end of the school year Jamey asks Elise to live with him in New York City for the summer.
The setting is also a perfect mirror for their relationship, bouncing from high society parties, million dollar lofts, and champagne to run down apartments and the gritty streets of the city.
No one in Jamey’s social circle or strict family approves of their relationship, not even his wild, former movie star mother. Libaire perfectly captures the all-consuming nature of their love, both emotionally and physically (there are some graphic sex scenes in this novel, just a heads up). Elise said several times she would die for Jamey, and that’s easy to believe. It’s not a healthy love, but it feels real in all its gritty, obsessive details.
The rich boy/poor girl was really hammered on every page, though. Jamey was also completely oblivious to how much privilege he had. Yes, he thought about how he had so much more than others, but their pain and daily struggles were still just an abstract concept to him.
While it was slow in the beginning, the middle really picked up speed and I couldn’t put it down. The ending was interesting and actually surprised me. I thought there were a few predictable ways it could end, but it didn’t go in either of those directions. I both liked and disliked the ending, but can’t go into any more detail without spoilers.
I recommend this for fans of intense romances, mismatched pairs, and 1980’s gritty and over the top NYC.