This should be an obvious one. Forbidden love, hot-for-teacher, “oops, I dropped my text book, could you help me, Sir?” But this is not that. You can almost taste, smell, feel this book, such is its evocative nature. It manages to be startlingly real, but also gorgeously, lyrically told from the point of view of a believable, self-destructive but tough protagonist, Maise. And equally, as her relationship with Evan, the man she discovers to be her high school teacher, unfurls – or unravels – we’re not given an unrealistically perfect God but a flawed, impulsive, real guy.
Raeder also explores the awkward issues surrounding one-sided, platonic friendship, and how messed-up people navigate their messed-up relationships, in such a way that you can feel every painful mis-step, every euphoric high. As Maise and Evan attempt to steer their way through the course of something they know is viewed as ‘wrong’ (though no need to feel too dirty for going with it – she’s legal and all), we’re not just given the titillation of ‘gosh, this is naughty’ – there are real consequences to their choice to throw caution to the wind. But when they do, hoo boy. It’s a smoke show. Raeder doesn’t shy away from the sex scenes, but she also manages not to make it clichéd or drag it away from the emotions of Maise as a character.
I suppose my only issue might be that, with the beautiful, lyrical writing, I sometimes found myself a little distant from the central relationship, from that feeling that you’re living each and every emotion with the character. But then again, when your characters are guarded and imperfect, perhaps that’s not really the point. Unteachable is truly unique, poetic and unexpected.
Cringe Factor 1/5
Is it Hot in Here? 4.5/5
For the Love of Feminism! 4/5
Overall Tasty Goodness 4/5
Unteachable is also available in actual, touchy-feely, paperback format!