Anne Whitney’s Art of Love is an incredibly original and refreshing addition to the New Adult genre! Our narrator Marina, a twenty-one-year-old from a very sheltered and abusive background, arrives in New York City and through a chance encounter, finds herself befriending and, in one case (well, eventually two), shacking up with a group of edgy, eccentric artists. Fitz, the man who takes Marina in, is a performance artist specializing in nude pieces. So, basically, he’s the complete opposite of everything Marina’s experienced so far in her life. Fitz’s friend Viridian, a painter and a bit of a fashionista, and his brother Derek, a drag queen and also a bit of a fashionista, also get to know and befriend Marina. Marina is clearly a fish out of water in this situation—and Whitney makes the most of her promising premise.Marina comes to NYC because she’s fleeing an abusive situation at home which, despite being over eighteen, she hasn’t yet managed to escape. Once in New York, Marina finds her past quickly catching up to her as her father mounts a police search for her. Marina has to become “Mary Fenton,” a chic, confident young artist, Fitz’s assistant and eventually his girlfriend, and she begins to thrive in her new role—but at the same time, she struggles with the question of what’s real and what’s performance. I really appreciated how the author used Marina’s struggle to address complex issues of identity, of how others perceive us and whether we can really change the person we are inside. This neatly dovetails with the questions of identity that Fitz explores in his performance art, and in his personal life.One of my favorite parts of the book was the incorporation of the modern art scene, especially performance art, a subject the author is obviously knowledgeable in. I liked that we saw the art through the eyes of an outsider, Marina, who remained skeptical of some of the more “out there” parts of modern art. Since I don’t completely understand modern art myself, this helped make the book much more approachable for me.Even more than the art, though, something I really appreciated about the book was that the characters were far from perfect. Marina is completely frank about the fact that both Fitz and his art can be, well, very pretentious. As for Marina herself, her unwillingness to stand up for herself and move outside her victim role causes conflict throughout much of the novel. Finally, I really loved that for at least one of the characters, The Art of Love was a journey-toward-love story rather than a happily-ever-after. This made it so much more believable for me.All in all, if you’re looking for a different new adult novel that explores questions of art and identity, The Art of Love is the book for you! I received a copy of this book from the author as part of the ART OF LOVE blog tour.