Alcoholic Literary Porn with A Side Serve of Cheese

Where I End and You Begin - Andra Brynn

To be fair I thought the writing was inspired. Something that I don't often see in New Adult books. And I really liked the obvious effort to deliver the story in a creative manner. It is quite difficult to be creative in this genre because the troubled heroine with a secret looking for redemption has been done to death and needs a fresh perspective but at the same time you have to meet certain audience expectations. I get that. So A for effort there.

That being said, this just faltered a little too visibly in certain stretches (particularly at the end) for me not to question if all that muscle this showed in terms of atmosphere and insight were all just smoke and mirrors.

It was a lot like watching professional wrestling. All these mammoth men doing violent things to each other. Then you take a step back and you realize they're wearing costumes and spoiler alert, everything's scripted.

Bianca Ray is a college student with a fascination for ghost stories, sleeping around and alcohol. After one particular night of indulging on a little too much of all that, she has to go through the usual motions of hangovering, except she does this in class, in front of the scintillatingly clean Daniel McBride, the substitute instructor for the day. No, not that Danny McBride.



Perhaps in order to entice more readers with the promise of taboo, the blurb already tells you that Daniel is a Catholic priest. Hold your knickers Father Stearn Stearns fans, he's an aspiringCatholic priest with a background in counseling and conveniently enough, photography, who wants to help the beautiful troubled girl shrouded in mysterious mysteries. I'm not sure why this was offered in the blurb when this was drawn out as an annoying non-mystery for the entire first half of this book.

Anyway, I'm being irreverently glib when I was really quite impressed with a lot of the insights this book had to offer, particularly on faith. I loved the conflict that was enfolded in Daniel's character, they were quite beautiful without getting preachy and definitely something you don't see in this genre often. I did like some aspects in Bianca's character, I never felt like I was being manipulated to like her for being this strong proto-feminist even if she does come across as one.

"I fuck up pretty bad all the fucking time. But I don't bother anyone with it, you know? They're my problems. No one else should have to deal with them."


I liked that the characters and the college lifestyle were given great depth and authenticity. It made me miss my 20s (thanks book O_O).

One may expect this to have some student-teacher dynamic but it really didn't. Instead a lot of the scenes took place with Bianca and Daniel forging a comfortable friendship by going into these urban explorations which felt a little forced and convenient for me. Of course this provided a unique set up for all that wonderful atmosphere of decay and neglect. It did provide the proper ambience for Bianca's ghost stories and gives a jarring feel when you shift back to all those seemingly out of place snippets in between chapters about Tantalus and Norse mythology and metaphorical soliloquies which were simultaneously intriguing and annoying because it felt a lot like literary preening. 

But all of this sits on the foundations of a weak and recycled storyline which was supposedly hinged on the overused conflict of the bad girl not deserving the good guy and a plot twist that when expanded on after its reveal was a disappointment. There was no heft in the plot to back up all that beautiful insight and I often caught myself being amazed over all that depressive, alcoholic literary porn:

…The future is referred to as being 'behind us'. It must be behind us, since we can see the past. We walk backwards, blind, into the future, only knowing where we've been.

That's what I feel like. I walk backwards. I only know what I've already done. If I'm walking toward a cliff, I wouldn't know it. And sometimes, I think I wouldn't care.


And eye rolling over the outright, generic cheese porn New Adult as a genre loves to indulge in.

 

"Before there was you, I was in a fog, not knowing which way to go. And then there was you, and you burned it all away. 

You were my guiding light when I didn't know what to do. I know that I have a choice."


I'm sorry if I'm coming off a romance grinch but I don't care if it was in-character for Daniel since he's aspiring to be a priest (and you know how us Catholics love our theatrics)… but that dialogue could've been handled in a manner that didn't make it feel like it belonged to an entirely different book. I'm not even going to touch on the "muscular thighs" and the "hard stomach" descriptives or the TL:DR sex scene but suffice to say this is one of the most bipolar books I've read in a while and the effort to serve one too many masters was just too evident when these things should be seamless and hidden from the audience.

In the end it's still a good book that attempted to break some rules from this genre. It had a lot of promise but some of the pieces in its puzzle just didn't fit as well as it should with each other. I liked a great deal about it, but not enough to not notice the places where it wavered in its efforts.