Author: Nina Lemay
Publication date: August 19th 2014
Buy the book: Amazon
Girls like me don’t get happy endings.
I know what I am. At worst a cliché, at best a cautionary tale. I put an international border between me and my past, only to wind up working in a low-end titty bar. Even my excuse is as lame as it gets: I’m paying for college, getting my art degree from Montreal’s most prestigious school. Although some days it becomes confusing: am I just a student who moonlights as a stripper, or a stripper who masquerades as a student?
But the inevitable happens and my two lives collide. And now there’s one other person who knows both the quiet, antisocial Hannah and the sensual, shameless Alicia. One person who keeps my secret.
He’s beautiful, he’s sophisticated. He comes from the other side of life, the one where I’m not wanted or accepted. But he calls me la petite Américaine, and his hot, hot hands on my skin promise me things I long ago gave up on.
The problem? He teaches my Classic Photography class.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)
If there are two things I love when it comes to book themes, they would be strippers and student/teacher relationships. And Nina Lemay made my every fantasy come true when she decided to write a book about a stripper in a student/teacher relationship There is something about the taboo that makes it so enticing and addicting but it is also a topic that does not incite a lot of creativity in authors. Fortunately, Lemay had no problem in terms of creativity and uniqueness of her plot. And I will admit, I shamelessly devoured this book in a matter of hours and even asked for seconds.
Hannah's cynicism and confidence felt like a welcome home hug from my two best friends. I have a deep infatuation for heroines who can tell people off and have a very deep and intellectual mind. Although most would think that those characteristics are actually Alicia's (Hannah's stripper alter-ego) and not Hannah's, I beg to differ. The two have identical voices and I believe that Hannah just needs to discover that all that spunk and snark actually belongs to her. I really enjoyed being in Hannah's mind, the way she sees things gave the world a dimmer light but also managed to tilt it sideways, her mind was different, intriguing and very enthralling. I just could not stop reading! (Hannah actually reminds me of Maise from Leah Raeder's Unteachable, I can't decide if they would make great friends or be enemies because their personalities would clash.) I also really liked how vulnerable Hannah was at times but still manages to straighten her back, keep her chin up and snap her fingers in Z-formation. Her growth as a protagonist and as a person progressed and showed as the book went on and I found myself looking up to her as she matured but still stayed true to herself. Hannah and Emmanuel's relationship was also a factor in her character growth.
I am still trying to decide if I love Emmanuel or if I am going to friendzone him. I loved him and Hannah together but there were times I felt as if for every step they took forward, they had to take three back. Their lack of trust in each other was their undoing. While their "love" was very passionate, it lacked the emotional connection between the two. There were also times when I felt as if Emmanuel was way harsh towards Hannah about her occupation. I mean, dude, give her a break! But what really struck me the most about Emmanuel was his backstory. When Hannah and Emmanuel's layers were being pulled back and their secrets exposed, I realized how much both of them let their pasts affect their future and because of this, their capacity to trust each other diminished. I was very impressed with the way Lemay piece things back together.
This may come as a surprise but what really amazed me about Shameless wasn't the romance between the two characters, it was the portrayal of women in this book. How women are actually condemned in society and are constantly victimized and preyed on because no matter how much we fight for women's rights, the stigma in society will take a looong time to destroy. The craziness and suffering that Hannah went through absolutely broke my heart but her bravery and determination made me want to hug her. Putting herself out like that? Amazing. I also have a newfound respect for strippers, really.
There were only a few characters that were mentioned in this book but Lemay managed to give them all a role. I never expected some people to turn out the way they did but as I read on, their roles started to make sense. Also, I super adored Marys, one of Hannah's coworkers. Haha!
Shameless is not just about a stripper in a student/teacher relationship, you may think that at first but as you read on, you'll see what I mean. Shameless is about self-discovery and finding that fight in you to defend yourself no matter how bleak the situation may be. This book was raw, powerful and spoke volumes, it transcended the very boundaries that society had set and freed itself. Reading Shameless was a beautiful experience and I definitely look forward to reading more of Nina Lemay's books.