Juilliard or Else by Nichele Reese

Juilliard or Else - Nichele Reese
Nobody approves of the ballerina and the poor boy.

Since this book is one mess of stereotypes and clichés, that cliché quote is perfect for kicking off this review.

I think you all recognize the story: rich white girl with dreams of becoming a ballerina and an independent person after living under her stepmother's thumb for her whole life while her father is the most amazing person on the planet (according to our heroine). On the other side of the tracks we have the young man coming from a rough upbringing with an addict for mother with abusive boyfriends. When our heroine is accepted to Juilliard and gets to live on her own with two roommates, one of them with her own abusive past. Add in a chance meeting and our heroine and hero falls deeply in love after just a few days. But of course, nothing is ever so easy.

You see where I'm going with this? Hollywood sure does. I can count off at least ten movies with the same – or at least almost exactly the same – storyline. The difference between this and all of those movies is that the movies doesn't have the most dreadful heroine. They also manage to give the drug dealing hero some personality. Juilliard or Else did not manage to do that. All it did with its characters was to make them as stereotypical as humanly possible. Ballet dancing heroine; rich, white, privileged, bulimic, virginal, naïve, smoker. And our hero... as I said, not much of a personality here. It's hard to give a character one of those when he's busy making out 90% of the time.

The main problem is really our heroine, Abigail, but I want to take a moment to talk about the plot. Because there really isn't anyone until somewhere around the 60% mark. Up to this point it is really all about Abigail blaming her stepmother for everything and Abigail swooning and making out with Tucker (our hero). After that so much happens all at once it's hard to keep up. It's not that it's much, it's that it's done poorly. One problem is barely presented when the author decided to throw in the next. All this achieved was that Abigail and Tucker had the chance to break up and get back together 7 times or so with nothing being resolved. Also, at that point Abigail's whining had caused me to not give a damn about what happened to her and it was impossible to understand what the hell ever Tucker saw in that girl.

But as we talk about that. Things done poorly. How about this:

It's not an eating disorder. It was at first, and now it's just something my body does on its own. I hate it so bad; I feel like I can't control it anymore. It's taken control of me.

Okay, maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal, but to me it is. I've struggled with eating disorders myself, and this book is just offensive. First of, the view on eating disorders (as presented in the quote) is sketchy. An eating disorder is something your body does to you. It makes you starve, throw up, etc. It's when doing one or more of these things isn't a choice anymore, it's when your body makes it a natural thing, more or less forcing you to do it without your choice. That's when it is an eating disorder. And the notion that you can cure yourself with a simple breathing exercise prescripted by your boyfriend is ridiculous. I'll leave it at that.

And with that, let's move over to Abigail, because this girl is what's making this book a trainwreck. For one thing, she's terrible at realizing she might be wrong. When she gets to know Tucker is dealing drugs, she accuses him of lying. Okay, he never exactly told her what he does, but she sure as hell never asked even when he disappears suddenly or hangs out with obviously bad people. But no, it's his fault all the way. At the same time she claims Tucker to be so open. "I loved how he just opened up to me." Her own words. The next she claims he's keeping secrets from her. So yeah, Abigail's hard to like.

Second, she puts all the blame on her stepmother. Abigail blames her for not telling she's really Abigail's stepmother, when it was her father's idea to wait to tell Abigail. Abigail blames her stepmother when a guy named Alex proposes marriage to Abigail even when Alex states he asked Abigail's father for permission. Really, every little thing is always her stepmother's fault. And don't get me started on the controdicting messages regarding her father. He can fire a guy for grabbing Abigail's arm, but he won't tell his own wife off from bullying his daughter, whom he loves more than anything.

No, just no. Everything was so poorly done and handled I cursed every other page. I should've stuck to the Hollywood B-movies.