White Fur (Hardcover)
The character descriptions in Jardine Libaire's second novel, White Fur (after Here Kitty Kitty), are so pithy and bona fide that she could have wrapped her stormy 1980s love story into a tight narrative verse. But then we would miss her talent for building the slowly intensifying, steamy relationship between two New Haven kids from divergent backgrounds. Chiseled Jamey Balthazar Hyde (third-generation heir to investment bank Hyde, Moore & Kent) lives in an off-campus townhouse, one of those princes "raised in a pod, incubated in the thick and slippery gel of legacy," whose Christmas holidays in Southampton meant "caviar and Veuve Clicquot, black velvet, giant fir trees and eggnog, Labradors with red ribbons around their necks, tangerines in stockings." Behind the townhouse, in a bare squat where "the fridge door is scaled in decals," lanky Elise Perez watches Jamey day and night. She's "a greyhound, curved to run, aerodynamic, beaten, fast as f**k, born to lose... half-white and half-Puerto Rican, childless." They meet on a beer run, and before long, the privileged Jamey and raw, risky Elise dive into an edgy, rugby scrum of a sexual relationship. This can go only two ways: one, an Elise fantasy of a forever love that her single mom, "a ghetto Mae West," never had--or two, the other way.
To her credit, Libaire doesn't let this Romeo and Juliet tale follow a predictable wrong-side-of-the-tracks lovers path. Instead, Elise carries the novel with her fresh impetuosity and fragile sensibility in the face of a world she's never tasted--nor much wants. Their relationship heats up and Jamey drops out of Yale to whisk Elise off to Manhattan's East Village. In her ever-present white fur ("knee-length rabbit coat with its vinyl belt, the Esther stitched in violet in the taffeta lining") which she got in a swap for a can of Pringles on a Greyhound bus, Elise roams the streets and bodegas with her stray dog, Buck, smoking and stopping to shoot baskets in empty courts while Jamey works an intern job at Sotheby's. Until he up and quits. Legally renouncing his inheritance, Jamey grabs a gumball ring and takes Elise to the courthouse. When the Hydes get wind of it, Jamey's stern father and grandparents Binkie and Bat bring on the power of old money to try to bust up the impassioned lovers. In their own ways, neither can escape the family and lives that made them who they are. Libaire's White Fur is a love story with raunch, obsession and heart, told with frothy originality.
Bruce Jacobs's review first appeared in Shelf Awareness.— Bruce Jacobs
Amazon Best Book / Literature + Fiction
Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
Huffington Post "Great New Books" for Summer 2017
Vulture's 10 Summer Reads
Kirkus's 11 Thrillers for Summer 2017
New York Magazine's Things to Do June 2017 A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City 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 couple moves to Manhattan in search of a new life, and White Fur follows them as they wander through Newport mansions and East Village dives, WASP-establishment yacht clubs and the grimy streets below Canal Street, fighting the forces determined to keep them apart. White Fur 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.
About the Author
Jardine Libaire is a graduate of Skidmore College and the University of Michigan MFA program. White Fur is her second novel. She lives in Austin, Texas.