Unteachable by Leah Raeder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 forbidden stars!!
If could rate this book based on the writing alone, I would. Unfortunately, there are other elements to consider as well.
As I have mentioned, Unteachable is superbly written. It reads almost like a graphic novel. Don't ask me why but it does. The prose is not your usual prose especially for the NA/YA sub-genre. There's nothing cheesy about it. It's raw and the voice of Maise is perfect for this little gem.
Unteachable centers around a young girl with a troubled upbringing and her teacher. Maise and Evan met in a carnival. They were just two people who hit it off right away, and I mean really hit it off. Unbeknownst to Maise, Evan was to become her new teacher. See, Maise wasn't exactly truthful with Evan about her age, which sets off a chain of events that had me turning the pages of this book, not caring whether I sleep or eat, just so I'd know if Maise and Evan would get their happy ending.
Leah Raeder crafted a gritty and emotionally powerful story that had me at the edge of my seat. Appalled, disgusted, hot-and-bothered were just some of the many emotions I felt while reading this book. And while I did enjoy myself very much, I did have some issues with some of the characters, which I will get into later.
Maise was a fascinating heroine. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that her age in the book was only 18. She acts more like a 30-year old most of the time. She was definitely unconventional compared to her NA contemporaries. For one, she wasn't a virgin. If she were a character in another book, she'd be cast as that girl. You know the one who sleeps with half of the boys and makes the life of the heroine a living hell? Yeah, that one. Thankfully, this wasn't that kind of book and Maise was the perfect heroine for this.
Evan on the other hand, as much there were moments where I felt for him because he obviously fell in love with Maise, didn't do it for me. Don't get wrong, he is a fascinating character and flawed. Very flawed. But the fact that this happened to him before and with his 17 year old student to boot, didn't endear him to me. Once is too many. I felt--and this is just my opinion, okay--I felt that it diminished what he and Maise had. A little back story would be nice too. Aside from what Park told Maise about Evan, nothing was really revealed about Evan aside from what happened to him. I would have loved that.
Wesley is another character I feel ambivalent about. There were times where I liked him and there were times when I was just like...
What he did was so not cool. I get it. You think your friend needs intervention but to expose her like that? Come on.
On the other hand, I liked Park. He's the kind of friend I would love to have in corner and take my back. Evan was lucky to him. He was the most grounded character in the book. I liked that he told Maise the whole truth, which should have been Evan's job by the way.
Despite my personal issues with this book, I still would recommend this to anyone who loves edgy and gritty stories. Don't be put off when you hear the word NA because frankly, this book cannot be categorized or be put in a box, as most great books are. Definitely not for the faint of heart though as it deals with a very touchy subject matter.