The more I think about this novel, the more I love "White Fur" by Jardine Libaire.
It's the 1980s, and Elise, a school dropout and recently homeless young girl, is living in New Haven, Conn., with a friend she met on the street. Jamey is one of the white, privileged and wealthy guys in the apartment next door; the longtime buddies are students at Yale and everything material has been given to them on a silver platter. The unlikely attraction between Elise and Jamey is powerful, lustful and trepidatious on Jamey's part, as Elise is from low-class, poor, unsophisticated stock, and although she has big love for her family and knows what she wants out of life, his fancy and pretentious family and trust fund friends would not be receptive. Their quirky relationship starts out behind closed doors, mostly confidential and strictly sexual in nature, and as their mysterious attraction builds they slowly become a couple.
Elise, always clad in her white fur coat, something she acquired in a trade on the streets, loves Jamey for who he is and not for the money. Jamey becomes whole as he blossoms under the devotion of Elise and her unconditional love for him; his upscale life has proven money can't buy you love, and he gives up his fortune to be with his girl. They spend the summer together; the bright lights and the dark alleys, the lust and grime of 1980s NYC come alive when they move there for Jamey's summer internship and between sexual escapades, experiences with new friends, evidence of white privilege and being on the receiving end of relentless judgment, they stick together and in the process he saves her from a life of being alone... and she saves him from a meaningless existence of wealth with shallow relationships.
Beautifully written with some shock value and sprinkled with description that triggered memories of my own time in NYC (not the raunchy parts, more like the mention of Dorrian's on the Upper East Side!), Libaire tells the story of a girl who is neither white nor black and does not identify with any group and a boy who challenges the expectations of his family all in the name of love. On the outside, Elise appears to be a lost soul, but she is solid and in touch with her wants and needs while Jamey looks the part of a successful, young, wealthy well-adjusted guy yet he is broken and unsure of who he is.
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Libaire's story causes you to think about what is truly important in life, take a closer look at relationships and the meaning and importance of family. As much as Elise and Jamey were addicted to each other, I was addicted to "White Fur." It's a wonderful and unique story of love with a crazy and unexpected ending!
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