Come See About Me - C.K. Kelly Martin

"Was I wrong to ask you to ring me? Sometimes I think I should've left you alone. I don’t want this to throw either of us off."
"You weren't wrong," I say. "No one’s being thrown off." I haven’t forgotten what he said two weeks earlier, that he didn't want another source of confusion. "This is like a vacation from real life."
"It feels like that," he agrees.

At this point I do not know yet how many aspects my review is going to cover. But let me tell you first that in my opinion this is how all New Adult fiction should be like. Heavens, no, I do not demand that every author decides to kill off her heroine's perfect - and I do not mean sunshine pretty with a later to be discovered rotten core, but considerate and sexy and artistic with realistic flaws - boyfriend right in chapter one to have her quickly spiral downhill. There is without question a limit to the number of grief-centered books I can stomach in a given time period. But in real life there is a vast variety of good and bad life-changing experiences college-aged women encounter, which is why it made me exhale in relieve to read about Leah, who loses her live-in boyfriend of one year (who is not Caucasian, by the way, which means a bonus point in character diversity) and cannot and does not want to let go and heal afterwards "What I need is the space and quiet to register Bastien's absence. That hasn't changed. I don’t want to move on. As it is, every day takes me a little further from the time we shared together. I need to protect and preserve what I still have of him.", instead of reading about the weird ups and downs of another irresistible female who needs to come to terms with her virginity, her past abuse, her sexuality in general and a small, foreseeable number of other super special secrets and another gorgeously violent I-hide-my-inner-fluffy-kitten-until-SHE-turns-up-and-me-on bad-boy, whose-farther-from-life-than-Earth-from-Pluto personas only exist to awkwardly populate some supposedly hot-sex-on-a-platter script.

If this comparison caused you to sulk about a lack of physical excitement in 'Come See About Me',  you have simply misunderstood. There is sex - even explicit sex - aplenty in established Young Adult author C.K. Kelly Martin's first New Adult attempt. But it smoothly fits the plot and it does not make the cast and the story feel like props. Leah starts having an affair she wants to keep purely physical and ephemeral with an almost stranger and struggles with the feeling of betraying her dead boyfriend and his family. But although the guy supports her idea of a 'vacation from real life', he claims that "Nothing can ever only be sex, can it? Otherwise it wouldn’t matter who you were having it with. And I like you. We’ve been friends too, haven’t we?"

In spite of my lucky lack of similar experiences I thoroughly felt Leah's state of frozeness, her flight into constantly cheating her consciousness into imagining Bastien alive and besides her. I understood her selfishness, her dismissive behavior towards her - wonderfully depicted, by the way, I do adore Yunhee - best friends from university, her job inn Toronto and her parents. And I got her craving for touch and her stupidity when she throws all caution to the wind.

The minor characters were interesting and well-rounded, too. Instead of suffering from the obligatory cliché gay sidekick on match-maker's campus prepare to shake hands with a 100% normal, middle-aged lesbian couple. Plus there is Armstrong, the hyperactive hamster!

I even liked the half-open ending, although I am kind of partial towards completely vague but hopeful ones like the one in 'Holier Than Thou', another New Adult novel I wholeheartedly recommend. A few reviewers declared the outcome of Leah’s problems to be too positive and sweet. In my opinion it was pleasantly elating and Happy, but allowed for many other ultimate futures besides an Ever After.

Consequently I am sufficiently puzzled why the author could not find an interested publisher (Thanks for finding that link, Sarah Moon.) - due to the lack of a fitting target group - and eventually had to go the indie way. Or to put it differently, I am flummoxed why the target group for a generic problematic-virgin-meets-clingy-bad-boy-plot is everlastingly huge, while a gem about a regular young woman like you and me like this is only appreciated by a handful.