When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.
The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.
White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.
White Fur by Jardine Libaire
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 by Hogarth Press
White Fur is an intimate look at a dysfunctional relationship between two people who have been damaged before they’ve even met. While it’s easy to compare the storyline to the traditional Romeo & Juliet plot, Jamie and Elise bring their own baggage into the relationship and they’re up against much more than just meddling parents and differences in socioeconomics.
I really enjoyed Libaire’s writing style. Her depictions of 1980s New York and the rawness of Jamie and Elise’s experiences are what moved the book along for me. For someone who only knows the locations described in both Connecticut and New York as seen from the late 1990s to the present, I appreciated Libaire’s ability to bring these neighborhoods to life in a way I’ve never seen with my own eyes.
What made it difficult for me to really become invested in White Fur was the characterization. While I understand that the differences between Jamie and Elise are an important part of the novel, they at times felt more like caricatures or stereotypes of who Libaire wanted them to be and there were times during my reading that a phrase or a description, particularly of Elise, rang a bit false for me. It felt a bit forced and the constant reminders of their socioeconomic backgrounds started to get in the way of my connection with the characters.
I ultimately enjoyed Libaire’s writing more than the plot itself and that is what propelled me through my reading. I don’t think I was the right audience for the novel since I was anticipating more of a character-driven plot and instead felt there was something lacking in character development as the story progressed.