Book Review: Unteachable by Leah Raeder

Posted March 5, 2014 by Debby in Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Unteachable by Leah RaederUnteachable by Leah Raeder
Published by Self-Published on July 27th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 356
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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.

3 Stars

Unteachable is an indie New Adult romance that popped up on my radar last year after multiple blogger friends gave it high ratings and rave reviews. New Adult isn’t really my thing, but every once in a while, I am up for a steamy romance, and with its pretty cover and good prospects, Unteachable was at the top of that list to check out. I definitely enjoyed this read, and it was a great albeit coincidental Valentine’s gift to myself, but I’m feeling a bit… conflicted.

Unteachable follows the snarky and devil-may-care Maise, a high school senior with a troubled past, who lives life to the fullest and has her fair share of casual hookups, usually with men much older than herself. This is how she winds up hooking up with Evan after meeting him at a carnival, but later finds out, to her horror, that he his her new film studies teacher in school. Cue the forbidden romance and the drama llama.

I gotta say I was totally into this romance. The hot scenes are seriously on fire. Like, when you read this, make sure you have a gallon of water and a fan next to you. Maybe don’t read this in public places. But whoa, it sizzled. The two definitely had chemistry, and it was undeniable. Though some people might be turned off by the student-teacher dynamic, I quite like it. I dunno. I like forbidden romance like this. I generally don’t have a big issue with the “power imbalance” thing (at least in books, real life would be different), and I definitely didn’t have that here, because I really felt like Maise was super mature for her age. I mean, she’s pretty much had to raise herself and take care of herself, so she has much more life experience than most of her peers.

I feel a bit mixed about Maise’s circumstances, though, and the relationship with her mother. I’m not really into such darker storylines, but I did feel a lot of sympathy for what she was going through. I loved how it made her grow closer to her friend Wesley and his mother. The scenes with them together as a pseudo-family were really heartwarming.

So, I was absorbed by the romance and really liked how they gradually came to terms with their feelings for each other. But I gotta say… there’s a plot twist somewhat late in the book that has me question the whole thing. It’s a common issue for me with the New Adult genre. I mean, do we focus just on romance, or do we make a bigger story out of it and tie it to character growth? Not only did the plot twist make me SERIOUSLY angry at Wesley, but it made the rest of the book really odd for me. I couldn’t stand that Maise forgave Wesley so easily, because what he did was, to me, rather unforgivable, although I did seriously like him before that. But it seemed to want to make this into a story with a deeper message about addiction/obsession and the delusion of young love… which the ending then completely contradicted. (Also, I’m not sure how to feel about Evan, knowing his past. It makes him really dubious to me, and overall I don’t know where to place his personality.)

I’m conflicted. It just feels like the author didn’t accomplish what she intended, at least for me. If you want to make it a pure romance book, then do that. But don’t go for half of a character growth storyline and then kill it with the most cliché happily ever after ending. If you want to go for the character growth storyline then really go for it, and end it on a note where you see Maise living happily and independently.

Summing Up:

This isn’t the book that will sell me completely on the merits of New Adult, but for what it’s worth, it is a really hot romance, which is what I was looking for. I wish we could find the balance between hot romance and character growth, but it wasn’t found in this book. I’m torn, but overall I still like this book. The ending may have me conflicted, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be more than happy to reread the first half multiple times.

GIF it to me straight!

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Recommended To:

It’s a safe bet that New Adult readers would like this, but doubtful YA readers might have similar issues as I did.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Unteachable by Leah Raeder

  1. I really liked this book (especially for a New Adult, which I have a few issues with), but I completely agree with you about that plot twist. It made me question his motivations, what type of person he was, and basically, the whole relationship. While I didn’t have this ick factor before (I feel the same way, forbidden love in a book works when it wouldn’t in real life) I definitely had that ick factor after the plot twist.
    Pam@YA Escape from Reality recently posted Waiting on Wednesday: March PicksMy Profile

  2. POTENTIAL SPOILERS in this comment, although I’ll try to keep it vague.

    I know what you mean about the plot twist. It took the story out of this hot fantasy into a scenario that was a lot more uncomfortable for sure. I think–and this is just my interpretation–that this might’ve been included as a hint of realism, though, because no matter how thrilling it was, the romance was a majorly fucked up situation, and an adult who behaves that way is totally irresponsible and maybe has some issues going on. And often repeats his behavior, if he’s attracted to young girls. While as a romantic fantasy it might’ve ruined the mood, I thought including that bit of insight actually elevated the material to a whole new level that you rarely see in a genre like this.

    BUT I get where you’re coming from, and I’m really glad you took a chance on the book and enjoyed it overall. Weirdo Valentine’s Day for you, eh? 😉
    Wendy Darling recently posted Murder of Crows: reviewMy Profile

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