Up For Air is the first novel in the Lost in Austin series by Christina Berry.
Finished on: 6.5.2021
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give Away.]
Ari met Greg and Jake when they were just teenagers. Jake became her best friend, and Greg her husband soon after. Ari has left a very shelterd life that way for 12 years, but a funeral causes her to take stock of her life, and the bottom line is that Ari isn’t happy anymore. She feels limited and suffocated by her lack of experiences. So she asks Greg whether they could open their marriage to try new things. To her surprise, Greg agrees and their decision pushes them both on new paths. But where those paths lead, they could not have foreseen.
Up For Air is a really good read with nice characters and a good understanding of what its story is actually writing about. There were a couple of moments where I wanted to get my own editing pen out, to polish things a little more, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.
I thought at first that Up For Air would be a story about polyamory, which I would have liked. But as things progressed, I kept thinking, “no, not like that, that’s not good, that’s not healthy, don’t”, so I grew a little antsy about whether the book actually thought that this was good poly practice. Fortunately, Berry makes very clear at the end that this was not – neither meant as good poly practice, nor actually polyamory. It’s very reassuring that she did her research (or is poly herself, I don’t know).
The same thing goes for the kinky parts. Kink in literature often follows the 50 Shades approach – meaning that it is written by somebody who (most likely) doesn’t practice it themself and has not bothered to looking into how things actually work, meaning that their take on kink is misinformed to abusive. In this case, though, it felt better handled, definitely healthier and more grounded in reality.
But those were just aspects of a story that is really all about Ari trying to figure out who she is and what she wants. It works through her crisis in a very realistic way, letting her make mistakes without judging her for it.
Ari herself is a very nice character, and I also liked the men that surround her – Greg, Jake and Alex. I was a little frustrated by the fact that Ari has no female friends at first and even when she finds a friend in Sheryl, that relationship takes such a back seat to her romantic and/or sexual encounters, although it is such a formative thing for her. (And as a bisexual, I had to groan very loudly at the “kiss a girl” part of Ari’s bucket list. Though it is, unfortunately, not unrealistic.)
There were a couple of moments where my inner editor came out and wanted to highlight some passages for another do-over (a lot of breaths were held. Eyes seemed to give entire monologues about the inner state of their owner. The rhythm of a couple of sentences was off), but I have definitely read worse edited books (or worse books, period).
It’s an engaging book for sure. I was surprised to find out at the end that there are also books planned for Greg and Jake (I hadn’t realized it was the beginning of a series). I have to admit that I’m glad about it, not just because I would be interested in reading about them, but also because Jake is a Native, but his entire background is only alluded to, so that it would have felt more like tokenism, if a) he didn’t get his own story and b) Berry wasn’t Native herself. So that’s something to look forward to.
Summarizing: really good, especially for a debut.