Wait For You by J. Lynn (who also writes as Jennifer L. Armentrout). William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins. 2013. Personal copy.
The Plot: Avery Morgansten is starting college away from home, away from family. Not just away; she’s also chosen a college in West Virginia that she knows will have no one from her home town. She’s leaving all that far behind her.
Late to her first class, she runs into Cameron Hamilton, sending pens and notebooks flying. He’s handsome, he’s flirty, he’s nice, so Avery does what anyone would do.
She runs away. “I moved over a thousand miles to start over and I already mucked it up in a matter of minutes.”
Except Avery runs into Cam again. And again. Walking home, he’s there. Once back in her apartment building? He lives across the hall. They share a class. Cam likes her.
Starting over isn’t easy. She hadn’t planned on handsome Cam. She hadn’t planned on falling for him. Is she ready for something to happen? Will Cam wait for her?
The Good: As I explained in my review of The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, as part of my preparation for the ALA Conversation Starter I’m doing with Sophie Brookover and Kelly Jensen, I’m reading a lot about what “New Adult” is or isn’t, what is or isn’t being published, and, of course, reading some of the books that have the “New Adult” designation. Briefly, New Adult is primarily for a readership of ages 18 to 25.
I liked Avery and Cam, even if at times Avery was erratic in what she did or didn’t do. As a character, she didn’t really work for me until the second half of the book. Cam — Cam had the patience of a saint. It’s not just that Avery sent mixed messages; it’s that Avery had secrets, some pretty significant, and those secrets really affected her ability to truly connect with those around her. While the timeline of recovery made sense from Avery’s point of view, how did Cam see it? Especially a Cam who had no idea that recovery was even going on?
Oh, spoilers, by the way. So if you’re like me, looking for a NA book to read? This was a nice quick read; and (as far as I can be a judge after just two books!) contains the emotional impact that readers are looking for. So many feelings! Being honest, even there were certain things with the plot and Avery’s characterization that had me eye-rolling, or didn’t work for the type of reader I am, I really liked Avery, Cam, and their friends; liked the plotting in the last third of the book; and am going to keep my eye out for the sequels that tell the story from Cam’s point of view, as well as a story for Cam’s sister and Avery’s best friend.
Spoilers. As with Callie and Kayden, this had a certain level of hurt/comfort to it, except it wasn’t quite as overblown soap opera. The past that Avery is running away from is that she was raped, wasn’t believed, became the town outcast, was emotionally neglected by her parents, and had a suicide attempt. Cam’s past hurt is more a secret than a hurt: he beat up his sister’s abusive boyfriend and was arrested. Cam is supposed to be a “player,” but in terms of what is in the book, that just seems to mean that he has had lots of sex before he meets Avery. He never appears to be in doubt about wanting a relationship with Avery (at least, not in a “but I’m a PLAYER” type way), and never cheats on her.
As with Callie and Kayden, I kept wanting to yell at Avery, “therapists! they have therapists in West Virginia!” What I liked is that Avery is doing her best without any type of outside counseling; she truly believed, I think, that new place meant new Avery. To a certain extent, yes, that is true. But, as Buckaroo Banzai said, “no matter where you go…. there you are.” Wait For You turns out not be about Cam waiting for Avery to be ready, as Avery waiting for herself to truly deal with and address the rape and the aftermath. Cam ends up being an important part of her support system in this happening, but this is not Cam “fixing” Avery.
Here’s another thing I tend to yell at books that include unreported crimes, especially the type of crime that tends to be repeated by the perpetrator. “Call the police,” I say, “so it doesn’t happen to someone else. This isn’t just about you.” I won’t say how, but Wait For You addresses this point in a way I found satisfying. (It would only be “very” satisfying if there were a fourth book. But that’s as spoilery as I’ll get on that point.)
I know it’s impossible and hardly fair to judge New Adult on two books. With both books, I was struck by the emotional intensity; the desire for reinvention; and finding someone to trust after a lifetime of not being able to trust. Since I’m approaching New Adult not just as a reader, but as someone wondering whether New Adult is a thing and how to meet readers’ needs, I’m glad I read them (and may try a few more) to understand what readers are looking for and what other books may meet those needs.
With the low price point of many of these books, I think “eh, it’s cheap enough, so why not buy it and see whether or not I like it?” From what I understand, that’s not an uncommon approach to these books and is part of the explanation of the high sales. So what if I don’t like it, or don’t read it? It’s just a couple of dollars! For those of you who want to spend even less, that is, nothing, there’s a free ebook sampler of New Adult titles called Between The Covers: The Hottest New Adult Books.
If you have suggestions for other New Adult titles I should try (especially one that doesn’t include recovering from sexual assault), please let me know!