Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So Easy To Love - J.A. Pak

Are we doomed to fall in love with the same person over and over again, even with the slate clean? To make all the same mistakes because who we are doesn't ever change, even as we're touched by one person and then another? Perhaps each person who brushes against us makes us all the more entrenched in what we're not. All that wonder and optimism of a beginning, slashed and cut by experience- so why is the beginning so enhanced, so imbued with magic dust, when its lightness makes it almost superfluous? Is it that possibility of being who we are not?

I've heard author J.A. Pak refer to her novella So Easy To Love as chick lit, but as far as chick lit goes, this is chick lit for smart chicks. While it has all the appealing elements of a chick lit novel - a young, single woman struggling with love, career, and self-esteem; a sexy but just beyond reach love interest; the stalwart and overlooked best guy friend - So Easy To Love also has lovely prose, a rather sophisticated consideration of the nature of love, and some great classic movie references woven in.

This is the story of Susanna Yu, a.k.a. "Smithie." Devastated after being fired from her job by a woman she once thought of as a confidante and mentor, she finds an accounting position in a smaller company. There she meets the attractive Rafe - her boss - and it turns out he is attracted to her as well. A romance slowly builds between these two wary lovers; but in the meantime, Smithie becomes reacquainted with - and over time, much closer to - Carter, a friend from her past. Which of the two men will turn out to be her true love?

Smithie's Korean/Japanese/Swedish heritage, the incorporation of cuisine, music, and film into the plot, and the author's delicate way of capturing both the delicious headiness of new romance and the deeper, philosophical aspects of love, result in a unique take on a classic romantic storyline. The ending completely surprised me, and while some readers might root for a different outcome; I would argue that there is something far more interesting and thought provoking to be found in endings that go against expectation.

I found So Easy To Love, well... so easy to love, start to finish. Recommended especially for women readers who like a contemporary, cosmopolitan, single-woman-of-the-world romance seasoned with culture and the occasional edge.

J.A. Pak is, among many things, a poet, writer, and author of So Easy to Love, Seal Skin, Act of Creation and Other Stories. Her work has been published in Atticus Review, Art/Life, Kartika Review, Quarterly West, Split Quarterly, The Smoking Poet, The Subterranean Journal, and others. You can learn more about J.A. on her blog and follow her on twitter. I also had the pleasure of interviewing J.A. last year here on Books, Personally.

You can buy So Easy To Love on Amazon or Smashwords, iTunes, Sony Reader Store and Barnes & Noble.

My thanks to the author for a complimentary copy of her novella.


  1. Thanks so much for such a fabulous review! Chick lit for smart chicks is now forever my tagline! :)


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