Giving it Up by Amber Lin
June 18, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
I think Giving It Up has a really intriguing and good premise and it has very dark, emotionally damaged characters, which is always something I enjoy. And while the first 10-15% of this book is really strong, I feel like nothing comes together at the end. But there is still something about this story that will stick with me.
Allie was raped by her best friend two years ago and it changed her forever. She has a daughter because of it, and she has refused contact with her rapist ever since. She didn’t press charges, and has tried to stay hidden away from him. With the help of her best friend (who is a prostitute) she works at a bakery and is barely making her bills. Because of the rape, she now goes to clubs, looking for rough anonymous sex. On one night she finds a man named Colin, and they go back to a hotel room. Allie has low self esteem and goes into each sex scene with feelings like this:
If only I could stop thinking. Does he want me? Of course he does; I can feel his erection. But any girl would do. If he wanted me, he’d already have fucked me by now. He wouldn’t be sitting there, letting me do this. What is he waiting for? Come on, come already. I’m taking forever. He’ll get bored, or worse. I’m doing it wrong. I’m not good enough. If you want me, take me. Please take me. Fuck me. Prove that you want me by fucking me.
This is a running theme with Allie throughout the book. And one of my problems with this story is that we don’t get to see Allie evolve, or try to work her way above this. I feel like at the end of the story, she still very much feels shamed. And I think we miss an opportunity to explore this more. While the above feelings during sex make sense, by the end of the book, I wanted to see her at least attempt to overcome them.
Colin takes an immediate liking to Allie and a very protective stance. He is extremely patient and understanding, and even asks her to move in after only knowing her a short time because he knows she needs money and she was threatened. Another problem I have with this story is I feel like we never really get to know Colin. The story is told in Allie’s point of view, and again, I think there is a missed opportunity to explore why Colin is so taken with Allie. Why he deals with all of her crap. Colin really intrigued me, but we don’t get to know him well enough. He has a lot of secrets surrounding his family, and I don’t think they were fleshed out.
As the story continues, it starts to lose focus. Too much starts happening, and it all just becomes jumbled. Ultimately, I never felt the hero and heroine actually fell in love. I think he likes her, and feels something for her, but I didn’t feel love. I also feel like Allie didn’t over come her rape trauma to be able to move into a loving relationship with him.
Having said all that, I really think this author has a good voice. There is a lot in this story that didn’t work for me, but I’m still very intrigued to read something else by her. She can write dark and erotic, two things I like. Her sex scenes are very well done. I think she has potential to write something crazy good.