I’ve been trying to get my, shall we say, eARC problem under control for the last few weeks. I currently have 5 left on NetGalley and 3 physical ARCs to finish so needless to say that my goal of having them all done by May is just not happening.
This week I attempted to finish DONE DIRT CHEAP by Sarah Nicole Lemon and GET IT TOGETHER, DELILAH by Erin Gough. Neither of them went very well.
DONE DIRT CHEAP’s blurb makes it sound like an amazing story of two girls who form a fast and strong friendship despite that Tourmaline’s dad is the President of the Wardens, a motorcycle club, and Virginia’s boss wants to take them down. 30% into the story and the girls are not friends, Virginia has a claustrophobic near-rape scene with her boss (who bought her from her mother), and a plot of jumbled and thin, I wasn’t sure what to think. There was also a huge issue for me with the age gap between the two girls and their love interests. Tourmaline is 18, Cash is 23. Virginia is 18, Jason is 28. While Tourmaline and Cash felt iffy, Virginia and Jason was absolutely horrifying. When you look at what Virginia has gone through, being bought and groomed by a crooked lawyer at a young age, the fact that she is attracted to the man 10 years older than her is more than disturbing.
This is also held up as a diverse book due to the interracial relationship between Tourmaline and Cash. I was deeply, deeply troubled by how Cash was treated in the book. The first 30% of the book (the only part I read before I found spoilers), Cash isn’t named. He is referred to as “the conscript”, the guy who is trying to earn a spot in the Warden’s motorcycle club. What was so upsetting was the fact that while Tourmaline mentions there are a “few black guys” in the club, they are older and are the original members. Cash is the first black conscript and it was hard to read about a bunch of old white rednecks forcing a young black man to cook for them, run their errands, and not talk back without drawing my own conclusions concerning racism. It was also disgusting to see Tourmaline talk about how hot and sexy his dark skin was but still refuse to refer to him by his name. Cash also has “rules” concerning Tourmaline, the main one being that he’s not supposed to talk to her, which he continuously breaks. I’m sure some will think that I am reading too far into this but Black men and other men of color and Native men have been brutally murdered because white women have fantasies that they are so precious and prized that MoC/Native men can’t help but be attracted to them, damn the consequences. That is prime fetishization of MoC and I am not here for that.
GET IT TOGETHER, DELILAH was the second book I DNFed this week. I honestly didn’t get too far in with it (maybe 30%, around chapter 12). The writing was good even if the plot was unrealistic (what adult leaves their business and teenager to traipse across the world to get over a broken heart?) and I thought Delilah was a generally likable character. However. HOWEVER.
Her best friend Charlie, who is 18, is supposedly in love with his 30 year old tutor and after she turns him down, he stalks around her neighborhood, Delilah in tow, until he finds her house. After knocking on her door and getting her dad, Charlie becomes so outraged that the man won’t let him in to see the woman that he punches his tutors Dad in the face. This is after he tries to force his way in. Not only does Delilah help Charlie escape, she also allows him to hide out at her house because he’s paranoid the cops were looking for him. Delilah condones his behavior by saying this is what he’s like with women. Fifteen different women in the last year, to be exact. So, what we have here is a teenage boy who doesn’t understand no and harasses women until he finds someone new to stalk, I mean, love. I’m sorry, at no point should the author have been like “Yes, this is a good character to give to teens.”
I’m hoping the rest of my ARC reading goes a little smoother than this. How many books can I DNF before they stop letting me have them? We might find out.