Friday, May 4, 2012

Teach Me

Teach Me
R.A. Nelson
$8.99, Paperback
Razorbill, 2007
January 13th, 2012

Genre: Realistic
Age: 14+
Description: Carolina “Nine” Livingston has always been a bit of an outsider. Wanting to round out her electives her senior year (as she wants to do something with space and has taken all the science courses she can), she enrolls in a poetry class taught by the new teacher, Mr. Mann. She is immediately drawn to the way he approaches poetry and treats her like an equal and not some little kid. What starts out as a harmless crush soon escalates as both Nine and Mr. Mann enter into a passionate relationship.
Opinion: While winning a number of awards and honors, I found Teach Me to be so-so. The style of the writing was like it was trying to be more a literary style (like an adult book with a teen character) rather than how a real teen would speak/think (even if the teen was super intelligent). The book starts with Nine telling readers she crashed the wedding of Mr. Mann and then it back tracks to how their relationship started, meets up with the wedding, and then follows Nine’s depression and action after the wedding and her own graduation. This is a book for mature readers because of the subject matter. Language isn’t much of a problem but the characters do have sex (with Nine losing her virginity to Mr. Mann) and Nine does exhibit some major stalker-obsessed behavior. I’m not sure if this behavior is realistic or if it borders on the absurd—such as dressing up weird (like an old lady) to crash his wedding and giving the bride a “gift” which is never fully disclosed; scaling a patio to the second floor apartment of Mr. Mann’s in order to spy on his and his wife, Alicia; getting close to both Mr. Mann’s and Alicia’s parents; and going to a poetry reading and embarrassing him in front of a lot of people and then stalking him home in a massive storm which results in her car getting stuck in flood waters and almost ultimately ends with her getting herself and her best friend killed. The actions seem a bit far fetched but clearly portray an emotionally distraught/disturbed girl. In the end, she finally discovers that Mr. Mann was in love with her, didn’t cheat on her with Alicia, and his abandonment of her was because of situations she couldn’t see. 

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