Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Losing It by Cora Carmack. Self-published ebook, 2012. Currently available.

Age Level & Genre: New Adult contemporary realistic fiction


16034964Face Value:
Well, there’s no question about it: this book is going to talk about sex. The cover leaves nothing to the imagination regarding the subject matter. I’m shocked at how young Garrick looks on the cover. I imagined him as a more mature looking man, especially because he is several years older than Bliss. He looks like a young adolescent in this picture. That’s weird.

Does it break the slate? Nope. Not even a little. I had hoped for some level of sex positive discourse and confidence in body image because this book is supposedly about a woman taking charge of her sex life. Unfortunately, none of that emerged. This book glorifies an exceptionally unprofessional relationship. It also exemplifies marriage as the ideal state for a relationship, and that’s just not something that works for everyone.

Who would we give it to? This isn’t really a book that I would recommend to others. However, if pressed to identify someone who may enjoy reading the book, I’d give it to a theatre major who enjoys romance novels.

Review: Losing It is no stranger to the blogosphere. Carmack originally self-published the book and set up a blog tour to debut her novel. Through some savvy self-promotion and buzz generated by book bloggers, Carmack’s book was an instant hit. She received offers from publishing houses within three days of self-publishing the book. Carmack struck a three-book deal with a  publisher, and Losing It made headlines as a writer’s dream success story.

Carmack identifies herself as an author writing for the “new adult” audience. Losing It is about a woman named Bliss who is just finishing college and on the brink of independent adulthood. Bliss is an interesting case study of the new adult heroine. She has the emotional maturity of a typical young adult character. She is self-focused and ridden with angst, especially about her professional identity and sexuality. Bliss, a theatre major, is unsure if she is cut out to be an actor or if she needs to fall back on her stage management skills. She is also frustrated that she has managed to reach the age of twenty-two and still be a virgin. Although Bliss has had a number of hook ups with her fellow theatre folk over the years, she hasn’t felt confident enough to have sex with any of them. Determined to rid herself of her virginity, Bliss goes to a bar one night to get stinkin’ drunk and to find a guy to sleep with.

Bliss’s mission to have a one night stand goes better than she expected as she finds a guy she genuinely likes, and they go home together. The night doesn’t go quite so smoothly from there. Bliss freaks out at the last minute and doesn’t have sex with Garrick. She makes up an elaborate story about having to go pick up her cat and awkwardly extricates herself from the situation. And then she runs into Garrick again the next day. He is her new theatre professor, and Bliss could not be more mortified or confused.

Rather than effectively severing their romantic ties, Bliss and Garrick begin this complicated dance of flirtation and avoidance. They know that they’re not supposed to have a romantic relationship but they cannot seem to stay away from one another. I was so grossed out and irritated by their lack of self-control, especially in classroom settings. I would have been happy to see their relationship develop outside of the classroom, especially if they took measures to distance themselves professionally. Instead, I thought that this book set a terrible example for young adults as to how they should conduct themselves when professional and personal matters intertwine.

Although Bliss is a virgin for most of the book, there are still plenty of intimate scenes that Carmack describes in excruciating detail. If you’re into detailed romantic scenes, Losing It has plenty of reading material for you. That’s not really my preference, so the book lost me during these moments. What I disliked most about the romance between Bliss and Garrick is that it was so fueled by their physical chemistry. Other than their mutual interest in classical theatre, the two didn’t spend a lot of time getting to know one another. They didn’t discuss their hopes and fears, their talents and foibles, or anything like that. It was all making out and then cuddling and then making out some more. Garrick repeatedly refers to Bliss as “unbelievably sexy.” Sure, that’s fine, but he rarely described her as “intriguing” or “intelligent” or “hilarious” or anything having to do with her traits beyond her physical appearance. This irked me. A lot.

Despite their drastically inappropriate relationship in the academic setting, Bliss and Garrick get together. Bliss of course wins the lead role in her senior year production because she is perfect and amazing (gag). But oh no, other guys are in love with her too! What will Bliss do with all of this attention? It all works itself out in the most dramatic way possible, with Bliss and Garrick getting together. And then they move in together and get great roles in a production of Pride and Prejudice. Because every just-out-of-college theatre major gets lead roles right away! And then Garrick proposes to Bliss! Because marriage is the best ending to a story! I could not believe how saccharine and traditional this plot became. In the true tradition of classical comedies in which the play ends in a marriage, so did this story. I would have been less irritated with it all if Bliss and Garrick had some frank discussions about whether they were ready to take their relationship to the next level, rather than Garrick working up to a surprise proposal.

I have to admit that I found Losing It to be amusing. Carmack’s descriptions of the romantic entanglements and interpersonal drama of a theatre department were spot-on. But no matter how hard I tried to like Bliss, I just couldn’t. She and Garrick had a relationship that I would deem very unhealthy if it was happening in the real world. Readers in search of Slatebreaking characters and relationships should look elsewhere.

Reviewed from a copy purchased via Amazon.com.

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