One word – soabosofreakingawesome!
Now minus the excitement – so abso freaking awesome! Should I say it? I’ll say it. It’s officially one of my favorite books of 2013. In fact, it’s competing with just two books for top spot. Sigh…
Unteachable is the story of 18 year old Maise O’Malley. Yes, she’s 18, and in High School. But wait, hear me out. It’s really good, I promise! She’s about to start senior year, but first, she wants to fight her fear of Rollercoaster rides… call it facing childhood trauma. She walks up to a ride called the Deathsnake. So apt. And unfortunately for her, has to sit in the front seat. A guy joins her…
“You’re pretty brave… must be a veteran sitting up front.”
“It’s my first time.”
This turns out to be the ride that changes her life. So cliché but oh so true. See, Maise has had a fucked up life but on that ride, next to that guy, she forgets.
I’m not going to do the whole rollercoaster/falling in love metaphor. I didn’t fall in love with him up there. Maybe I fell in love with the idea of love but I’m a teenage girl. This morning I fell in love with raspberry jam and a puppy in a raincoat. I’m not exactly Earth’s top authority on the subject.
Once on the ground Maise does what she does best. She flirts. He’s clearly older than her but she loves seducing older men. She calls it her daddy issues, yes, Freud would have a field day with her. She ends up in his car and while she wants this to be a quick fuck to forget. She knows he’s different. Everything he’s said and done so far points to him being different.
“You asked why I’m here alone…. I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy and no one’s letting me in on the secret.”
He’s just like her, searching for happiness and hasn’t found it yet. But habit is a disease, and she can’t help it. She does another thing she does really well. She runs. But life has other plans. The guy, Evan, is not just a stranger who she had a brief connection with. He turns up where she least expects him. Her school, as the new film teacher – Mr. Wilkes.
I’m a sucker for Teacher – Student romances… forbidden love, age gap, angst, suffering, consequences, ultimatums… love. I want to heap praises upon praises on Leah Raeder because she deserves it. I want to force her into becoming my scheherazade so that I’d just sit and listen. She took the old story and turned it into something lyrical, poetic and absolutely beautiful. Yes, it’s about an 18 year old but one wise beyond her years. Forced to grow up with a neglectful mother, raise herself… and though she turns out very cynical, she also turns out strong.
When I saw that the main character was 18, I thought, Young/New Adult… no thanks! But I’m so glad I put those labels aside. It was funny yet heartwrenching. I’d sworn off the New Adult genre because I felt like the angst was piled on too strong. I found I couldn’t relate. So how I ended up relating to an 18 year old in love with her teacher… I’m not sure. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the author’s way of writing. So atmospheric. I felt as if Maise was telling me the story. Like we were co-conspirators.
What is this feeling? I wondered. What is this hunger that grows worse the more I feed it? They’d come up with a name for it a long time ago. But you already know what it’s called, don’t you?
I found myself nodding. Yes I know Maise! It’s love! You’re in love! Don’t fight it, it’s beautiful, it’s tragic, you’ve caught it, run with it! Yes, the author pulled me in, held me tight and I’m pretty sure as I write this review, she hasn’t let go. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. At one point I found myself holding the book but not really seeing it… I paused to listen to the song Yellow by Coldplay and then wondered why the hell that song came to mind… seriously, reading and drinking wine is not recommended! 🙂
I connected with Maise. I understood her even though we’re worlds apart. Mine I’d like to think of as a romantic comedy, her’s – a crazy mix of after school specials, Mean Girls, The Sopranos… crazy! And Evan… Evan I loved. To me, he felt like a teenager trapped in a man’s body. And I guess that’s precisely what he was. And though the story goes through the expected… there is a lot of the unexpected. A slew of secondary characters that you will love and hate. Other secrets begging to come to light… and of course the biggest one of all…
“I’m also thinking the night I met you was like someone handed me a winning lottery ticket and said, ‘You can only have it if you don’t tell anyone.'”
He gave me a sad smile. “I feel like that too.”
I don’t have to say it again but I will. I loved this book. If you’re wondering, it’s very steamy too 😉 And the end? Chills.
A million stars! – But for the sake of uniformity… 5 stars 🙂
Amazon Buy Link – Unteacheable by Leah Raeder