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Review: Anything To Have You – Paige Harbison

on February 6, 2014

Anything To Have YouAnything To Have You
Paige Harbison
Harlequin Teen
2014, 303p
Copy courtesy of Harlequin AUS

Natalie and Brooke have been best friends for a long time. Natalie is quiet, preferring to stay at home and watch old movies. Brooke is the partier, always where the action is. She’s beautiful and popular. The boys flock to her but for the past year Brooke has been in a steady relationship with Aiden, a guy who moved from Texas. However, Brooke readily admits to Natalie that while she doesn’t want to break up with Aiden, the relationship has gotten a little stale. She likes to flirt, to know that she has other options.

Brooke convinces Natalie to come to a party and once she’s there, Natalie begins to relax and loosen up a bit, remember the days where she had fun and used to have a few drinks and hang out. She drinks a little too much and most of the night is a blur when she wakes up the next morning, next to Aiden, Brooke’s boyfriend. She can’t remember what happened and manages to reassure herself that everything’s fine and that there’s no way she’d betray her best friend like that. 

But she can’t forget what it was like waking up next to him and now she has even more trouble ignoring the feelings she has for him, the feelings she’s always had for him. Aiden is obviously affected too although he’s running hot and cold and she doesn’t know what’s wrong with him. There are secrets everywhere but the secrets are going to come out and it’s going to test relationships and Natalie and Brooke’s long-term friendship in devastating ways.

Be warned. There are ***SPOILERS*** ahead.

I’m always looking for YA books that I think deal with difficult but relevant topics, even if those topics aren’t exactly palatable to me. I like that there are books out there that aren’t afraid to tackle the ugly side of life because it’s a reality that will happen to many people. And it’s good to know that you’re not alone and that things can get better. This book could have been a really mature exploration of teens attempting to deal with adult relationships and how alcohol can blur the lines. It could have been a sensitive look at date rape and how consent can be negated if the girl is so drunk she blacks out and doesn’t remember it. There could’ve been a lot of opportunities to address choices and safety and consequences. But this book does pretty much none of that.

Firstly, Brooke is a horrible, horrible person and I don’t understand a) why Natalie was even friends with her and b) why Aiden had gone out with her for so long. She spends pretty much the whole book flirting with other boys and wanting them to “want her” even though she’s not really interested in most of them. She just wants to know that they find her hot and want to have sex with her. The one other boy she does go further with, who she is basically all over, is a player who treated Natalie like crap, taking her virginity and discarding her. Brooke, Aiden and Natalie are all guilty of some pretty horrible behaviour here but I feel as though Natalie might be slightly less guilty than some. She was so drunk she obviously couldn’t really give proper consent. Aiden seems as though he was less drunk – he remembers everything although he doesn’t tell her what happened between them. This causes many, many problems down the road.

I feel as though this book gives the message that it’s okay to have sex with your friend’s boyfriend and it’s okay for a guy to have sex with a girl that’s so plastered she can’t remember a single thing in the morning, as long as you really both like each other secretly. Even after she finds out, Natalie never once says to Aiden, so hey, I was so drunk I was basically unconscious. Why’d you have sex with me? And he never says to her oh god I am so sorry, what I did was wrong in many ways, I didn’t realise you were so out of it and I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you. And by the way, not only was I stupid enough to do that, I was also stupid enough to forget to use a condom. Whoops! I get that he doesn’t tell her because he thinks it’ll upset her and he’s pissed off she doesn’t even remember or thinks that she’s pretending it didn’t really happen but there are consequences when you don’t glove up, mate. It was a dickbag thing to do on so many levels. After it all comes out, Brooke is angry (but actually kind of more angry that she has a right to be, considering her own behaviour) but Natalie never actually explains to her what happened. Yeah, she did the wrong thing that’s for sure and she needs to face that and apologise. But Natalie is also, in some ways, a victim as well. No one talks in this book. None of the friends actually sit down and talk about things. Even dating all the way back to when Natalie liked Aiden and she asked Brooke to introduce her to the new guy. Brooke didn’t really do that, instead she took Aiden for herself. Natalie never called her on what a douchey best friend she was, never really called her on the way she acted with other guys or her own brattish behaviour when Aiden got sick of her. Aiden never really called her on it either and it took him a really long time to get fed up enough to do anything about it. Brooke was spoiled and entitled, Natalie was spineless and boring and Aiden should’ve been sweet and funny but instead came off as creepy and manipulative. 

There’s an epilogue at the end that feels tacked on and a bit weird. I’d have liked to read about Brooke (even though I didn’t like her) after high school and how she adapted to life in college and also how she dealt with Natalie and Aiden. She seems different in the epilogue and I think skipping the journey of how she got there is leaving out an interesting part of character development. All in all, I was disappointed with this one.

4/10

Book #30 of 2014

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2 responses to “Review: Anything To Have You – Paige Harbison

  1. Danielle says:

    Yikes. Yeah, I can’t say I’m surprised.

    I saw this at the bookstore the other day and picked it up (even though I thought; “God, another dandelion YA book cover? How original.”) and the blurb left me cold.

    Shame that such an important, murky subject that young readers should be asked to think critically about, isn’t well-handled in the slightest. I have a feeling that if another author had tackled it …. oh well. This book is definitely not for me.

    Great, honest review.

    • It could’ve been such an opportunity to talk about so many issues but I feel like it took the Valley Girl way out focusing on who liked who and who was backstabbing who and cars and parties and drinking and hooking up and ugh. I don’t feel it portrays a very good message at ALL.

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