Untouchable by Leah Raeder
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: March 24, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: eARC, 320 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future.
But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.
When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.
That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.
Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.
Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.
It’s been awhile since a book left me feeling as conflicted as Unteachable did. It’s actually difficult for me to put my thoughts about this one into words, so bear with me. I’m going to do my best.
I don’t mind books about forbidden or taboo love. I actually rather enjoy them. I like pushing myself out of my comfort zone and enjoy the opportunity to embrace another perspective and find that helps my when reading fictional accounts of taboo topics. This isn’t my first student-teacher relationship book and I really don’t imagine it will be my last. As long as everything is consensual – which it was – I don’t have as much of a problem with this as others might have.
While this book was set in high school, Maisie was 18, so that alleviated a lot of the potential “ick factor” for me. The other thing that helped is that Maisie pursued Evan every bit as hard as he did her. She had a history with older men. He had a history with younger women. I didn’t find Evan’s actions predatory in this book. Maisie was neither taken advantage of nor a victim. Yes, there were a couple cringe-worthy scenes where it became apparent just how much he enjoyed the fact that he was her teacher, but that’s just part of who he is. Who they are together. They were both damaged and screwed up.
My only real issue with this book was that it’s important to me that I like or relate to the characters in some way and I didn’t find either Maisie or Evan particularly likable. Her daddy issues and general behavior made it hard to like her, though by the end of the book, I came to appreciate her character. She was stronger and more mature and driven than I originally thought. She proved me wrong. Evan might have been hot, but I just never clicked with him. Despite his past, I don’t think he’s a bad guy, necessarily. It was apparent he cared for Maisie and did have her best interests at heart, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like his character. Their relationship was an addiction of sorts, but I do feel there were real emotions involved, too.
Even though I didn’t love the characters, I was entirely wrapped up in their story. I read it in one sitting without a break. I loved Leah’s writing style. During the times I was frustrated with the characters and their actions, it was her fresh voice that kept me going. I found Unteachable a raw and real coming of age story. Love isn’t always pretty and it’s often not easy. But when it’s real, it’s right.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.