Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
Gitte: Such a fantastic surprise when you discover a book that instantly sweeps you up and takes you on an emotional journey which you just can’t let go off. I absolutely loved Unteachable; loved everything about it. The writing was brilliant, it was extremely powerful and poetic. It questioned and challenged in an eerie and gut-wrenching atmosphere. It was lyrical.
“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.”
We have two messed up characters who can’t stay away from each other, they circle each other marked by their past yet pulled to each other with an intense attraction.
“You can call it love, or you can call it freefall. They’re pretty much the same thing.”
The fact that they shouldn’t be together whether it be their age difference or the fact that their roles make it unethical well, it all adds to the possessive attachment. I personally have this unexplainable pull towards the forbidden, the challenge of a story line and the unique and this story was just that. You do too right Jenny?!
“Grow up. This is real. The world is ugly and nasty and fucked up, and so are we.”
Jenny: There really isn’t anything better than going into a book with no expectations and being blown away by what you find. Unteachable most definitely had me running the gauntlet of emotions, hoping against hope that everything would work out and was delivered in such a beautiful, moving, gritty and somewhat melodic way. I really did enjoy this authors writing style. It never felt stilted or forced and it wasn’t overdone with unnecessary description, yet I could picture every moment, every scene as if I was right there with Maise and Evan. It all just flowed so beautifully and I loved the movie theme and references.
“Nobody knows how to be grown up. We’re all just pretending for each other. It takes some people their entire lives to figure out what you already know.”
I agree Gitte, There really is something that draws us, like moths to a flame to these type of dysfunctional, taboo relationships. All the drama and heartache involved, It’s like a magnet. Whilst we frown upon it in reality, it provides a deliciously indulgent escape in the fictional world and has us completely consumed in every clandestine moment.
“Mr. Wilke says I’m both cynical and worldly for my age. I choose to take them both as compliments.”
Unteachable was that type of story. It was intense, passionate, at times completely sad and had me alternately clutching my stomach and heart. In the most part I found this story absolutely gripping!
Gitte: I thought Maise and Evan were extremely well written characters. They had such depth and I immediately loved them. Their story was different, it was full of twists and drama, the intensity and emotion overwhelming at times. Their story truly was beautifully ugly and powerfully raw. The chemistry between these two characters was passionate and the forbidden was almost as desirable as it was destructive. These character just had to look at each other and I felt it; the recognition of a broken soul finding another, the tension and the lustful hunger. That was the strength of the writing and the power of Evan and Maise.
Maise was under no illusion of her issues and the pitfalls. She owned them, yet underestimated herself and her strength, her sweet and clued up disposition swallowed up by the hand she’s been dealt in life. I loved her character, so refreshingly honest and real.
“Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with dick.”
Sigh…Evan….I fell in love with his character; flaws and all.
“I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy, but no one’s letting me in on the secret.”
Unteachable was dark and delicious and kind of naughty. I bloody loved it! I’ve read quite a few student/teacher stories, yet this one was quite unique don’t you agree Jenny?
“…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.” His fingers curl around mine. “That’s all life is. Breathing in, breathing out. The space between two breaths.”
Jenny: Can you believe this was my first student/teacher book I bloody loved it too Gitte. The depth of these characters was immense. Each so flawed, so broken. Both have baggage weighing them down but yes, they own it, they live it. Maise in particular was written with both grit and vulnerability. Maise, a young girl forced to grow up way before her time, yet still being the scared little girl inside, drowning in the hopelessness of her surroundings, yet never giving up on the possibility that there is something better for her, that there is something worth fighting for and I loved the tenacity of this girl.
“What the hell am I? …Too old to be a real teenager, too young to drink. Old enough to die in a war, fuck grown men, and be completely confused about what I was doing with my life.”
Evan. Well, like you I loved this man. Flaws, secrets and failings included. These two had the most extreme attraction. Physically, mentally and emotionally drawn to one another. At times their issues brought them down, at times it lifted them. Their relationship was a struggle and whilst it may have been morally wrong, the heart wants what the heart wants and morality has to take a back seat.
“How is it possible he’s scared of losing me? Never in my life had I considered I might be something someone worried about losing.”
Every character was enriching and each added so much to this story don’t you think Gitte?
Gitte: Yes, I thought all the characters in Maise and Evan’s story played an important part and I loved the dynamics of the relationships. In a story full of emotional drama, broken souls and destructive family ties both Maise and Evan find their redemption and salvation from where they least expect and seek it; all the while fighting the inevitable.
“Who fixes broken people? Is it only other broken people, one’s who’ve already been ruined? And do we need to be fixed?”
So many lies and deceptions; so much hurt and neglect. It takes one strong amazing girl to make a life for herself by following her dreams whilst grasping the fact that love exists, it’s okay to love and be loved in return.
“Things I didn’t expect to do my senior year:
Become a drug dealer.
Become my mother.
Find and lose the love of my life.”
I just had to give this story of love, life and obsession 5 glowing stars Jenny; I absolutely loved it!
“I can’t hold on to you. You’re like that shooting star. Just a trail of fire in my hands.”
This Author’s writing is exceptionally beautiful and descriptive and it’s definitely one to go on that TBR list right?!
Jenny: For sure! I look forward to more from Leah Raeder. I absolutely loved her prose. The internal workings of Maise’s mind delighted, saddened and moved me. She certainly kept you on your toes.
“There’s something so beautiful waiting for you. Don’t run from it. Run toward it.”
Unteachable gripped me and engaged me from the beginning and had me experiencing anxiousness to the ninth degree. The only reason this wasn’t a 5 star for me was I felt it became a little lost for a while towards the end, but that was soon remedied by an ending that completely satisfied me.
“You’re right, Evan, I thought. No one knows us here. I don’t even know myself.”
Well, I know you both now and I adore you. Evan and Maise you moved me. I was there with you both through every up and every down and you engaged me every step of the way. A gripping, passionate and raw story that I absolutely recommend.
“And the Oscar goes to Evan Wilke, for putting the first fine, hairline crack in the ruby of my heart.”
Gitte: 5 stars
Jenny: 4.5 stars