Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TWOSOME TUESDAY: Unteachable by Leah Raeder

This novel contains graphic sexual content and strong language. It is intended for mature readers.

I met him at a carnival, of all corny places. The summer I turned eighteen, in that chaos of neon lights and cheap thrills, I met a man so sweet, so beautiful, he seemed to come from another world. We had one night: intense, scary, real. Then I ran, like I always do. Because I didn’t want to be abandoned again.

But I couldn’t run far enough.

I knew him as Evan that night. When I walked into his classroom, he became Mr. Wilke.

My teacher.

I don’t know if what we’re doing is wrong. The rules say one thing; my heart says screw the rules. I can’t let him lose his job. And I can’t lose him.

In the movies, this would have a happy ending. I grow up. I love, I lose, I learn. And I move on. But this is life, and there’s no script. You make it up as you go along.

And you don’t pray for a happy ending. You pray for it to never end.

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Heather's Review
5+I can't hold on to you” smooches!

Oh my Jesus…  Where do I even begin?  Leah Raeder has just rocked my universe with Unteachable!  There is nothing quite like forbidden love to capture a reader’s attention and boy did she ever capture mine!
Maise… she is beautiful… she is broken… she is lonely… Abandoned by her father and more of an adult than her mother could ever pretend to be, Maise has had to grow up fast.  Only 18 years old but far surpassing her peers in maturity, Maise has no friends and zero interest in boys her own age. 

One summer night, she ventures to the town carnival, and meets Evan. 

There are moments, when you’re getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them, too.  It feels like meeting a stranger you’ve known your whole life.
The chemistry between these two burns.  It is electrifying and unlike anything either of them has ever experienced.  Though more mature than kids her own age, Maise is still a frightened little girl.  She knows men and she knows sex.  These feelings…the sparks… the butterflies are something foreign and Maise runs…

Reality comes crashing in when she walks into her film studies class on the first day of her senior year and the teacher is none other than Evan Wilke.  The man from the carnival.  The one she can’t seem to forget.

There’s something so terrible about wanting something you’ve already had.  You know exactly what you’re missing.  Your body knows precisely how to shape itself around the ache, the hollowness that wants to be filled.
Here is where Unteachable is very different from other student/teacher books.  Maise and Evan embrace their feelings.  Seeing each other again is like a shock to their systems and they don’t want to fight it.   
They don’t fight it…

“Statistically,” I said, “we’re doomed, you know.”
“Statistically, everyone is doomed.”
And so begins the student/teacher affair.  My emotions were all over the place.  Maise and Evan were so careless with keeping their relationship hidden that I was on edge… constantly waiting for them to be found out.  I experienced a hint of the thrill that they did… knowing that at any moment they could be caught.  It was more than the thrill for them though.  Maise and Evan have a deep connection.  Two broken souls that somehow come together and what they create is something magical. 

“I can’t hold on to you.  You’re like that shooting star.  Just a trail of fire in my hands.” -Evan

The impending doom is constantly looming over their heads.  What will happen when this ends?   Is what they feel even real?  Would they still want each other if their relationship were not taboo… forbidden… ?  If the thrill were removed, would the love still remain?

 “You should love something while you have it, love it fully and without reservation, even if you know you’ll lose it someday.  We lose everything.  If you’re trying to avoid loss, there’s no point in taking another breath, or letting your heart beat one more time.  It all ends… That’s all life is.  Breathing in, breathing out.  The space between two breaths.” Evan
There are books that you read and then there are those that you LIVE.  For me it is what sets apart the good from the GREAT.  Leah’s writing is refreshing.  It is different.  It is raw and gritty yet poetic all at the same time.  She draws you in and you become these characters.  You feel the tingles, the burn, the anxiety, the fear and the pain.  Your body physically reacts to the words on the page.  You don’t just read Unteachable.  You experience it and it is nothing short of amazing!

"You changed my life, Mr. Wilke."
His arms tightened around me, and he whispered back, "You changed mine."

Selene's Review:

5 Free-falling Smooches

“How do you explain that everything is too beautiful for words?”  - Maise

EXACTLY!  I am not a writer.  I am a reader.  And I am left completely ill-equipped to explain this book's beauty.  Something about this story was pure magic for me.  I can’t quite narrow it down to one thing.  Although Leah Raeder’s writing is a HUGE part of my love for this book.

Another aspect of this book that stole my heart was its heroine Maise.  She’s had a crappy upbringing … absent father, there-but-not-really druggie mother …

“Before this goes any farther, I should tell you I’ve slept with older men before.  Some much older than me.  Like, x2 and up on the multiplication table.  One was almost x3.
Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with dick.”

Maise has literally raised herself and, all things considered, has done a pretty good job.   She’s starting her senior in high school with big dreams to attend film school in California.  Just before school starts, Maise has a one-night stand with a stranger she meets at the carnival.  And although they don’t spend a lot of time together, Maise feels things for this guy she can’t begin to understand.

“And I felt something I’ve never felt before.
You can call it love, or you can call it freefall.  They’re pretty much the same thing.”

So what does she do?  She runs …

“Yeah, I hook up with older guys.  And then I leave them, before they can leave me.
Thanks for the abandonment issues, Dad.”

And of course it’s no big surprise when Maise’s carnival one-night stand ends up being her Film Studies teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.

Once they discover their dilemma, they don’t even really try to stay apart … they just strive to carry on their affair without getting caught.  And they don’t always try very hard.  There is an age difference between them that I know should bother me but it doesn't.  In addition to being mature for her age, Maise really is an old soul and, for me anyway, it really bridged the gap in their age.  I liked them together.  Their love for each other is believable.  Leah does an excellent job telling the story of them falling in love … even though it is tainted with lies and secrets.

Evan Wilke is damaged as well.  He’s got more baggage than he knows what to do with so he just keeps it to himself, hoping his secrets stay buried.  Despite all that, you can’t help but want him to be the good guy and to get the girl. 

Is it a little sick?  Yes. 

Is it a little twisted?  Yes. 

But it works.

Adding to the mix is Maise’s best friend Wesley, who also happens to be in love with her.  Wesley’s mom is so lovable and manages to fill a tiny bit of the mommy void in Maise’s life.  She’s also on to Maise's affair with her teacher.  And, finally, there is a jealous schoolmate who wants Mr. Wilke for herself.  It all makes for a suspenseful story of forbidden love, lust, and betrayal.

Sometimes I find myself reading a book and the author is just so WORDY …. I’m like, “enough already, just spit it out.”  Not this time. 

Leah’s writing is wordy.

It’s long and it’s drawn out and I hung on Every.  Single.  Word. 

So many times, she’d use a metaphor for something and once I realized what she was actually saying I was left amazed.

“We stared at each other, motionless.  Something flashed between us and broke open on his naked chest, leaving a glittering scar.  A tiny diamond.  Then another.  Then another.”

What a brilliant way to write she’s crying.

“A comet that had been accelerating inside my belly decided it was ready to crash into Earth.  I clapped a hand to my mouth.
We made it to the bathroom just in time for the show.”

She even makes puking sound glamorous.  Pure metaphor magic.

I loved this book so much.  I loved the characters, their relationships (the friendships and the romance), and, most of all, I loved the writing.  I was on the edge of my seat.  I laughed a lot and I cried a lot.  And my heart broke right alongside Maise’s.   This book definitely joins my all-time favorites.

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