My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
New Life by Bonnie was a disappointment. I’m kind of bummed. A new BD book always puts me in the ‘gonna-go-grab-it’ mood. I find her heroes generally adorable, so when I heard that this story had a scarred hero with slightly dysfunctional brain, I just had to read it. But... but... just but. The story depressed me. It was sorely lacking in emotion and intensity, something I always love and come to appreciate in BD’s stories. Another thing was the narrative which was quite distracting; first person, told alternatively from both Anna and Jason’s POV. It took me a while to get used to with who is saying what and which chapter belongs to whom.
Jason was an a$$hole when he was well and good, can’t put it in any other way. A guy I would never like. He was a player, and insensitive. And he is THE fool who put himself in this situation by driving drunk. Jason was injured all over, scarred on the face and body with a part of his brain damaged. He stayed in a coma for a time, then woke up and knew his life would never be the same again… ever. It was heartbreaking for me to read about what he suffered and his subsequent fight for recovery. About the trauma, the despair, the desperate attempts of learning to live anew. And I saluted him for not giving up. I myself have some experience of recovering from long-term illness, certainly not as serious as Jason’s but I can connect with him in some level. He tried through all these, living with good and loving parents who took care of him until he was confident enough to move out and get a job. Jason is trying to become independent, but because he can’t remember many things, altogether, unless by simple segments, he can’t do anything better. He had to give up college since he couldn’t make it there anymore after the accident. So today, Jason works as a janitor in this law office. The janitorial firm who hired him trusts him now since he’s dedicated and tries his best.
And this is where, suddenly one day, he meets Anna who was crying because her first day in court was a disaster. When he talks, Anna doesn’t ignore him. She’s, in fact, nice and replies back. Generally no one looks twice at Jason anymore so Anna’s smiles and beauty strike him quite deeply. Jason’s love life has been nil ever since his accident and now, his body’s letting him know what it wants. He knew it’ll go nowhere, yet he wants to see her everyday and talk to her. He even makes changes in his strict daily routine to get a glimpse of her. At one point, Anna begins to reciprocate too. She’s still nice and all, but does she also feel the way Jason does?
Anna is one of those golden girls who had A’s almost all her life. She wasn’t a nerd in that sense but just brilliant. Her life has been (I would say) manipulated by her strict mother and father, who are also (I think) in law. It’s like a family tradition, so Anna has always had her future planned out. Even though she doesn’t like law that much, she still studied it because, well, it was expected of her. She dated men who are like her; people I thought totally cold and distant. Her affairs, so far, had been short-lived flings, and there have been many, many of those. I don’t think she was seriously emotionally involved with anyone. And I did find her quite distant all through the book. When she meets Jason, she took to his ‘hotness’. He is attractive and somehow the scar on his face and his slow spoken words makes her hot. She also begins to feel attracted to him, even knowing it’ll never go anywhere.
So far, so good. I wanted to see how things play out between two people who are so socially unequal. Jason’s family isn’t poor or anything. His father owns a shop of tools and whatnots, and they live by rather well. He was supposed to help his father, but this accident took that away from him. But Anna’s family is rich, of course and dating a janitor is totally unthinkable. Yet, Anna can’t help giving into the physical attraction between them that was growing rather fast.
They begin seeing each-other, going on dates, Anna trying to learn and understand Jason’s troubles. It’s not only his scarred body and damaged brain, but he also has a limp. He’s in pain on that side of his body if he walks or stands for too long. Jason sometimes has trouble controlling his emotions like a baby. It was worse before but he has controlled himself a lot, working his way through. As I told you before, I felt for Jason, and at times, I felt like crying reading the things he went through. He might’ve been an a$$ but this changed him. He calls himself Jason version 2.0, who doesn’t remember much of his earlier life. But he wants to and in the process, one day at his younger sister’s game, he comes across a girl, apparently his high school gf’s best buddy. She leaves her number to Jason to catch up, giving some hint about something bad he did back in the high school (which, I thought, really was quite bad when revealed). Jason doesn’t like the things he hears about his ‘past’ life, and he’s honest about it. It seems like he has paid his price. Right now, Anna is the only thing that is really positive in it.
Soon things turned to physical and they start having sex and loads of it. Like bunnies with quickies in Anna’s office when no one’s around, if they can find a nook or a cranny to do it. I mean, seriously, it should’ve made me hot, except for, it didn’t. Their ‘relationship’ was just... I can only say non-existent except for the sex. Yah they liked being with each-other but Anna knew very well that she can’t date Jason for real. She can’t even talk about him to anyone for God’s sake without feeling embarrassed, a fact she was honest about. I didn’t like this at all. Anna tried her best to hide her affair with Jason, who understood her reasoning even without her pointing those out. Both were very confused and conflicted about what to do. Jason was very self-conscious about his ‘situation’, knowing Anna is so very much out of his league. Anna’s reluctance would hurt him, yet, he just thought he didn’t deserve anything better in life.
This wasn’t going well and I lost interest in the story for a while. When I got back, Anna’s parents came for a visit. Right now, Jason is mainly living with Anna. At night, he’d return from work, let himself in and stay the night with her. He also takes care of her puppy while Anna is working. So when Anna’s parents arrive early without notifying her, they find Jason there. Anna runs back home. Jason feels that she’s embarrassed by him (yes, she was somewhat uncomfortable about what her parents would think of him). Jason leaves, and later cancels the dinner date with Anna’s parents. Anna didn’t want him to be there in truth but invited him only for politeness’s sake. It was plain horrible for me to read. Anna’s snobbish mother starts grilling her the moment Jason is out of the door. She’s giving her advises such as: flings like this are ok. That Jason is hot so it’s not a problem to have sex with him. That he’s a ‘forbidden fruit’ kinda thing, so totally understandable yet, all the while giving subtle hints that Anna can’t possibly take this seriously.
WOW mommy, really?? I would be embarrassed for a mom like that one! But Anna is slightly manipulated by these, even though she knows that these things shouldn’t matter. So yes, sex with Jason is super. She even loves to spend time with him but something serious? Ummm........... *cricket*
Anyhoo, Jason does something douchy that evening he cancels the dinner with Anna’s parents. He was hurt, and he was supposed to be hurt. But I didn’t like what he does next. He calls up that girl who left her number to catch up on the old times. Soon Jason, even in his shaky state of mind, gets that this girl, Lisa, who was his ex Chrissy’s buddy in high school, had a crush on him. And she is still harboring that crush. So what does Jason do? He acts as the a$$hole he was back then. Both become drunk and have a heavy make out session in Lisa’s car (no explicit description of that FYI, only by mention of what he did). After all, he and Anna wasn’t ‘exclusive’, so according to Jason, it should be alright.
NO NO... plain NO!!
Gosh, someone kill me now! WTF? He was hurt and he had to use another girl to take that off???????? WOW seriously??? I lost much of my adoration for Jason in that incident.
Then he ignores Anna for a while. Anna is now missing him too, and the fact that he’s not answering her texts and phones makes her a little pissy. Yah, after the way you and your parents treated him, you are now pissed at him? Gosh, I didn’t know what to think. Then Anna just couldn’t stay away anymore, and seeks him out. But now Jason tells her that they should ‘take things slow’, which hurts Anna, even though she’s heard this from many other guys before a break up and never felt hurt.
Ok, I need something for my headache.
Anyway, they can’t stay away for long (again) and seek each-other out in a few days. When they do, and talk, Jason confesses to what he did. Anna is mad at him and leaves him. Jason has a breakdown, breaks his cell phone and so on. Then he wants to make up to Anna, and tries to do a gesture with flowers. He goes to her office and says sorry in his own way. It was kinda… sad. Jason was scared of losing her and was desperate. Needless to say that Anna coldly spurns him, humiliating Jason in front of everyone. He has another emotional breakdown, starts yelling at one point and then leaves the building. Anna never gets back to him, even after telling him that she’ll talk later. Jason becomes drunk, loses his job, then moves out of his apartment and returns to his family, all the while hoping that Anna would contact. He knew he let Anna slip out of his life in a stupid mistake with a girl he doesn’t even care about.
I think I need to mention it, which bugged me so much, that no one... NO ONE talked or even cared about Lisa’s feelings in all these. She was never mentioned again but when Anna or Jason was trying to talk about ‘that incident’. Yes she was involved in that with Jason, but did she know about Anna? Was it all her fault? Oh how convenient to make her the scapegoat, right? Jason took part in it willingly, and I doubt it very much that Lisa knew he’s involved with someone else. It was simply a mess that made me mad, depressed and plain unhappy.
Anna later starts missing Jason. When she tries to contact him, she finds that he’s not in town anymore. She does one of her ‘researches’ to find out Jason’s parents’ address. Anna goes to meet him there and to sort out their misunderstandings. Jason is over the moon to have her back again in his life. They forgive each-other and forget... again.
Lisa remained the girl who made Jason do things he shouldn’t have, a stupid careless mistake. That silly girl and her stupid high school crush, right?
The ending was pure HFN. Yes there might’ve been some sweet moments in the story. Yes, they said that they ‘might be in love with each-other’, but when I try looking at the bigger picture, I couldn’t see any future for these two. No long-term attachment of any kind because, after what I read, this is just never going to work. Anna isn’t going to give up her planned out life and successful career for Jason, who needs understanding and compassion. She will never message Jason’s leg to alleviate his pain. I never saw her doing it once in the story. Jason might be doing well now, trying to pick up his life as best as he can but he needs those things from Anna. Then, Jason’s douchy behavior where Lisa was concerned made me lose quite a bit of whatever compassion and love I felt for him.
So, yes, I wasn’t happy when this ended. 3.5 stars, barely made it.