Penguin / May 6, 2014 / $14.00 print, $5.99 digital
As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.
All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…
As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.
Tammara Webber's Easy would have fit in nicely with the “love in disguise” theme: as she recovers from a bad break-up with her long-term boyfriend Kennedy, sorority girl Jacqueline is delicately flirting via email with her econ tutor Landon, while also considering a “bad boy phase” with the mysterious Lucas.“They seemed as opposite as night and day, but I only knew half of each of them,” she thinks. More than just another perspective on the events of Easy, Breakable continues to explore duality. It's a story told in two voices: one is Landon, the boy whose ideal life was destroyed when he was 13, and the other is Lucas, the young man that boy grew up to be.
For Landon, life has a distinct before and after point: the horrific night that took his mother and left him physically and emotionally scarred. Then at 17 he has another before and after: the night he realizes he still has a chance to get off the path to self-destruction. As Lucas, he has a third: meeting Jacqueline. In the before, he had tried and failed to make himself unbreakable; that after offers him a chance to be whole.
Jacqueline pushes all of Lucas's inner buttons: like his mother, she's passionately artistic and open-hearted, and her “trendy douche” BMOC boyfriend doesn't appreciate her. When Lucas's spidey senses make him follow her outside after a party, just in time to save her from being raped, that pushes his biggest button of all. From then on, there's a war inside him, as he battles between his intensely protective side and his desire for her. That's not the only battle: he's a tutor and ethically prohibited from dating a student, and Jacqueline is an upper-class girl who sees him as a “bad boy.” Lucas has intimate knowledge of both sides of this class divide and knows how it inevitably plays out — “her bad-boy phase—an inconsequential segment of time between two sensible, valid stages: Kennedy Moore and whoever came next.” Still, what he wants more than anything is to be whatever Jacqueline needs.
When he finds himself tutoring her by email, he's more divided than ever:
I knew she'd heard my name. Now she thought I was Lucas, while she was emailing Landon. There was no reason for her to reconcile the two. In that split second, I was utterly relieved and then disgusted with myself and then torn right down the middle. Again.
[...]She trusts me. There was no triumph in that knowledge because I was giving her the embodiment of mixed signals — not to mention giving them as two different people.
Like many another lover in disguise, Lucas even finds himself jealous of Landon. “Of all the stupid-ass reactions I could have right now, that was the most ludicrous.”
Interspersed with this romance is Landon's story from age 13 to 17, the story of someone who needs desperately to escape and can't find anything but destructive options — getting lost in booze, drugs, fighting, indiscriminate sex. It's a shattering tale, especially if you've read Easy and already care about Lucas, even knowing that somehow he will pull it back together. The happy ending is implicit, yet especially meaningful with all we've learned about his past: “this new reality where before and after were no longer divided by a solitary rift.”
Breakable is a complete book in itself and can be read as a stand-alone. But if you've read Easy, were fascinated by the complexities and contradictions of Lucas/Landon, and don't mind reading some stretches of repeated dialogue, you really won't want to miss it.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Breakable by Tammara Webber, out now: