There’s an old Freudian joke that goes, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.” Unfortunately, the joke hints at a sad truth—sometimes, it’s easier for adults to blame their controlling, violent, or altogether absent (through death or otherwise) parents for their messed up lives than it is for them to take personal responsibility. The latest New Adult novels topping the bestseller charts feature adult children still struggling with their parents’ role (or lack thereof) in their lives as they venture into love relationships for the first time.
Some New Adult stories features parents who were more focused on acquiring wealth and power than on raising their children. In Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin, college offers sheltered heroine Carrie her first taste of freedom from her controlling father, who’s a wealthy senator. At her first college party, she meets Finn—a tattooed, motorcycle-riding marine/surfer. He’s not her usual type, but she falls hard for him. He falls for her, too, even though he knows he shouldn’t—because he has a secret that could shatter her trust in him and tear them apart forever.
In Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden Mills, the heroine Nora Blakeley is a privileged nineteen-year-old finishing her last year of high school at a prestigious academy in Texas. She has her future mapped out for her by her wealthy, perfectionist, and largely absent parents, but she rebels and fills her time with partying and sex until she meets 25-year-old Leo Tate, a down-to earth business owner raising his teenage brother alone. Leo struggles to resist the forbidden temptation that Nora presents, but Nora’s used to getting what she wants. Leo’s not just another notch on Nora’s belt of achievements, however; he’s her one chance at happiness and a life and love she deserves.
Sometimes parents aren’t rich, but they’re still controlling. And maybe a little too focused on being “good” instead of being a good parent. For example, in Finding Olivia by Micalea Smeltzer, Olivia Owens was sheltered and controlled by her father, who was the pastor of a conservative church. College offers her the chance to embrace her personal freedom, but by her sophomore year, she’s accomplished very little on her “Live List.” When her car breaks down on the way back to school, Trace Wentworth, a local mechanic, is instantly drawn to Olivia’s innocence and zest for life. When he learns about her list, he vows to help her accomplish her goals and live life to the fullest—and ends up falling for her in the process.
Another girl with an oppressive preacher for a father is Grey Amundsen in Stripped by Jasinda Wilder. Grey’s upbringing was beyond strict, and dancing was her one escape. When she travels to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of making films without her family’s support, she ends up broke and desperate for money to cover her tuition. So she becomes a stripper—a virgin stripper. In the V.I.P. room at the club one day, she meets a sexy-as-sin actor named Dawson Kellor, who teaches about lust—and love.
Sometimes parents are just plain bad. In Crazy Beautiful Love by J.S. Cooper, Logan Martelli is a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks who steals cars—with his father’s encouragement. Maddie Wright is a good girl from a good family who indulges her wild streak with him and pursues him with abandon. Because the Wrights wronged the Martellis in the past, Logan realizes that seducing Maddie and breaking her heart could be a way to avenge past wrongs—until he starts to fall for her. Unique among the genre, this is a full-length, stand-alone novel that promises a happily ever after. It’s the first in a series of three stand-alone novels featuring the Martelli Brothers.
Breaking Nova is the first installment of a dramatic new NA series by the popular author Jessica Sorensen. The heroine, Nova Reed, wanted to be a drummer, but when her boyfriend took his own life, her dreams were shattered and she sunk into a depression she couldn’t overcome. Quinton Carter is a tattooed bad boy who spends his days trying to forget the car accident that took the lives of two people he loved. Since he was driving when it happened, his family—and the family of his deceased girlfriend—blame him for the deaths as well, and he ends up living with a drug dealer. Both Nova and Quinton turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their pain, and the question is whether or not they will end up saving each other or tearing each other apart.
Finally, the absence of a parent—through death or abandonment—can be just as traumatic and long-lasting as bad parenting. Kiersten, the depressed heroine of Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken, tries to run away from the pain of losing both of her parents by leaving her small town for college. She meets Wes, a football star, and finds salvation in his arms; however, a health crisis Wes is facing could mean the end of everything—his sports career, his relationship with Kiersten, and even his life. Losing Wes would ruin Kiersten for good, and she has to find a way to save him—or help him save himself—before it’s too late.
What books are you falling for this September?
Brittany is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and small business owner who hopes that heaven will be like a bookstore with an endless supply of free books, free coffee and super comfy chairs.