cover image True Love

True Love

Sarah Gerard. Harper, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-293743-8

Gossip, sexual desire, and the uncompromising economics for aspiring artists guide the action in Gerard’s lurid, captivating tale (after the essay collection Sunshine State). Nina Wicks, a 20-something writer with an eating disorder and pill addiction who dropped out of college in New York City, is back home on the Florida Gulf Coast, dating a pretentious artist named Seth while sexting with her magazine editor, Brian, and talking on the phone with her best friend, Odessa, about an attempt to reconnect with her emotionally distant mother. Nina and Seth move to Brooklyn for her to begin a writing program, and she finds a low-paying gig that affords her a space to write. After Nina reconnects with Aaron, an acquaintance from college, they discuss making a movie titled True Love, and their volatile attraction leads to her dizzying breakup with Seth and harrowing fights between Nina and Aaron, which reach a fever pitch after Nina becomes the victim of revenge porn from Brian. Aaron’s movie idea (“a series of ill-conceived relationships that flame out in humiliating ways”) partially describes the book, but Nina’s defiance against labels and mansplaining as she works through her pain on her own terms adds an arresting feminist layer. Gerard’s unflinching look at youthful desperation marks an exciting turn in her work. (July)