“God, you make me hot when you talk grammar.”
I wish I could partially blame myself for going into this book with hopes too high; I'd heard great things about Dearest Clementine. 'Not like other new adult.' 'Independent heroine.' 'No asshole hero.'
But no, Dearest Clementine is just like all the rest.
Clementine, or Clem, has hardened her heart. After asshole boyfriends in the past, a family that barely acknowledges her these days, she's not keen to trust anyone. Her best friends (and her roommates), Jenna and Harper have helped her out of the worst anxiety and depression.
I don’t know what they saw in me, but their friendship helped pull me out of the darkness to the point that I don’t need to take anxiety meds anymore.
Still, Clem won't trust people, and she most certainly do not need a boyfriend. When she meets Gavin, he's the new member of her roommate's boyfriend's band. And, like Clem, he's a writer. Well, a journalist student whereas Clem, under a penname, is a bestselling YA author (a fact very few of her friends know of). Gavin is intersted in Clem from the start, and he tries to get under her skin, and slowly, he does.
For the past three years, I’ve ignored every guy who flirted with me. Every single one. But Gavin is different somehow. Sexy but sensitive. Strong but gentle. Easygoing but somehow intense. He can turn me inside out with one look, one touch, one kiss.
One of the biggest issues this book has is that it doesn't present any realistic development, neither for the characters or the plot. This quote above is the entire reason for why Clem is able to let Gavin in, and it's unrealistic in itself. Gavin is literally perfect (in Clem's eyes, and he's supposed to be to the reader as well, but I'll get to that soon). But back to the character development. Clem's development relies solely on Gavin, and his ability to be "perfect". It's thanks to him she's able to trust again, it's thanks to him she steps out of her bubble, it's thanks to his presence she's able to confront her own brother. It's unrealistic that she goes from not trusting anyone to letting Gavin in without any trouble at all, to opening up to the world. If her friends had played a bigger role, it could've been realistic, but since Clem's friends (only) purpose is to make her engage in sexual activities, or flirting, or trying to attract men, it's just a sad representation of female friendship.
When I say there's no realistic character development, what I'm really saying is that Clem's character isn't offered any realistic development. Gavin, the love interest, doesn't get any at all. He's perfect from the go, and, like other NA heroes, has about as much personality as a shoe box. He's sexy, every girl wants him (and every girl who does is somehow shamed for it even the heroine wants the same thing (eventually)), he's smart, kind, strong, manly, possessive and jealous, good at sex, etc.. (He's also prone to drop casual sexism from time to time.) Sounds familiar? It's because he is. He is all this from the start, and he's the same at the end.
When it comes to secondary characters, Jenna and Harper, Ryan (Jenna's boyfriend), Jax (Clem's brother), and a few others, they have no personality either. Jax especially should've been more fleshed out as it could've helped make Clem's progress more realistic (and the support coming from somewhere beside Gavin). He gets his own book (second in the series) so maybe that's why he didn't get as much time or development, but that was a big mistake. Jenna, Clem's best friend, is a joke. She's the stereotypical sex-obsessed friend whose purpose is to push the heroine toward hot sex (and hot men), and not much else. As said, a poor representation of female friendship.
Moving on to the plot. The overall plot is Clem learning to trust Gavin. Which is the problem, because the story is focused on making Clem trust a guy and not people in general. It's also focused on that Gavin himself makes her trust him, even when she's said she doesn't want him (but of course, in her mind, she wants him since all women wants it even when they say no, right?). You'd think that the friends that helped Clem to the extent of her not needing her anxiety medicine would play a part in helping her trust people, but no. It's all about Gavin's perfect persona that makes Clem trust people. A very troubling message: a woman can (with the help of her friends) get only so far in her progress, but in the end it's a man's assurance that will complete her progress.
The secondary plot is about a missing girl. Gavin is covering this for the school's newspaper, but after several months the police is out of leads. The mystery is put into the plot around 25-30%, and it's quite obvious who's behind it, since there is literally only one character that could possibly be the offender/kidnapper. I will discuss it more, but it's inside the spoiler:
You see, Clem, during her first year at uni is stalked, and then harassed and assaulted, by one of her professors. He took her under his wing and helped her write her first book. As time went, he began coming on to her, and when she said no, his obsession began. It ended with him moving away, and she got a restraining order on the professor. Now the professor is back and teaching at the uni again (which, is unrealistic as well, an quite offensive toward the university as the author uses a real one for the setting). He's also taking a new student (it appears) under his wing. Clem realizes this, and is worried, kinda, about the student. Yet, she doesn't say anything to her, because there is no good timing. Yup, Clem doesn't tell another (female) student that the professor stalker, assaulted, and tried to rape her, because Clem can't find the right time to tell her. Clem quickly found a way for the reader to lose all respect for her. Given all this, it's obvious who the offender/kidnapper, is. It's a poorly written mystery as more or less anyone will realize who's behind it from the go.
Basically, it's a poor attempt to bring some life into the story, and it adds nothing to the overall arc. It should've been left out of the story.
Dearest Clementine never had the chance to be something unique, or new, in the NA genre. It's full of sexism, misogyny, poor plot, no character development, and the usual carbon-cut characters. The writing overall is decent, nothing spectacular, but definitely readable. Unfortunately the book (and story) focused on all the wrong things, ending up in a mess.