New Adult has been a self-publishing phenomenon, so it’s interesting to see what the big publishers are going to do with it. In that regard, True is an interesting addition to the sub-genre (?), and it successfully portrays the themes and subjects of NA. Unfortunately, there were other aspects in which the story wasn't as successful.
Rory is a bit of a nerd, so of course she’s a virgin. Lucky for her—and inexplicably for us—her best friends (and I use the term loosely) and roommates are hot party girls who know exactly what Rory needs: to get laid. So they enlist the help of Tyler, a guy they know from, well, having sex with him.
While that happens, Tyler and Rory get to know each other and date a little. There is chemistry between them and they develop a friendship that’s framed by sexual attraction. They become a couple, get over a couple of obstacles, and overall make it work. And then life gets in the way. And by “life” I mean Tyler’s responsibilities and shitty mother.
As I said before, Ms. McCarthy captures well the essence of NA. It’s not just age and setting, but the situations, feelings and issues that come with becoming independent for the first time, having new responsibilities, figuring out what to do with the future, and how different limitations impact the way we begin to shape that future. And as such, I thought it was a fairly competent entry in the sub-genre.
The romance was also effective, although I admit to being a bit tired of stories about bad boys with hearts of gold corrupting good, virginal girls. I think it’s time to read about bad girls corrupting virginal boys, or any other variation if we’re unable to simply get rid of the “bad”. But regardless, I thought there was chemistry between the leads, and I liked them together.
The premise is silly and screams of predictable misunderstanding and angst, but it never goes there. Once Rory discovers that her friends hired Tyler to sleep with her, she is outraged and hurt, but also stops to think about it and realizes that their relationship is real.
So the beginning was intriguing and the first half was promising, but I had a couple of issues with the second half; issues that the more I think about, the angrier they make me.
The first thing that bothered me was the portrayal of poverty. Tyler’s mother is an addict who terribly neglects and mistreats her children. She’s unreliable, so Tyler is mostly in charge of the household (and he’s really bad at it). He sacrifices his dreams to get a quick EMT certification in order to support his family. And in the meantime, the house is dirty, disgusting and foul. Because poor people are all abusive addicts who don’t know how to keep a tidy home, right? Tyler’s situation is used to make the heroine aware of her own privileged life, which may not be that bad, except that in doing so, the stereotypical portrayal of poverty becomes a plot device to teach the heroine a lesson, turn the hero into a martyr, and create a final conflict that was actually quite depressing.
The second thing that bothered me was the way the main characters treated Tyler’s brother, Jayden. He has Down syndrome, so of course he’s used as another way to show how awful their mother is. But more than that, I was bothered by the patronizing way Tyler and Rory treated him. Jayden is in his late teens, yet they treat him like a small child, and in fact, some of his behavior was that of a small child. This is a young man we’re talking about and he should be treated accordingly.
The final score is True: 0 – Stereotypes: 2. Stereotypes win, and we all lose.
Review by Brie
When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.
Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…
Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…True by Erin McCarthy
Intermix. May 7, 2013