Contemporary · favourites · new adult · review

Unteachable by Leah Raeder

17978680Kindle Edition, 356 pages
Published July 27th 2013 by Velvet Pony Press
Source: Purchased

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.


This novel goes places where other novels fear to tread. It definitely falls into the spectrum of the new adult genre if only for the graphic sex detailed on its pages but rather than being skeevy, the sexual relationship between the protagonists of this novel is well written and works with the story. It is not present simply as a means to titillate readers. The writing of the novel is beautiful. Raeder has tight control of her sentences and her use of lyrical prose is outstanding. She doesn’t utilize poetic prose gratuitously. Her imagery is solid and adds a greater depth to the narrative.

The novel succeeds mostly because the main character, Maise, is no cowering Cinderella waiting for a prince to rescue her from a life of drudgery. She is loud, confident and not just aware of her sexuality but at terms with it. Raeder avoids the discomfort that comes with reading about relationships where one person has more power than the other by making Maise equal to Evan in everything but age. Though Maise acts like the teenage girl she is, her inner monologue is smart as is the language she uses to express herself with. There is no sense of “Lolita” in the novel and I liked that Evan’s character is expressed in a way that takes into account his age but does not limit him because of it. He is vulnerable and human but he doesn’t ever cross any boundaries Maise does not want him to.

The novel is, if I were to categorize it, more a bildungsroman than romance though that is present abundantly. Maise comes to terms with herself, who she is and who she wants to be. I like that as beautiful as she is described to be and as physical a persons as she is, Maise still wants to work behind the camera rather than in front of it. I also found her longing for Wesley’s mother to be poignant and beautifully expressed.

I enjoyed the book and though the story took strange turns and went in directions that I did not expect it to (mafia/mob/drug lord?) and ended, in my opinion, rather (as Wendy said) too neatly, it was a refreshing read. The writing, as I have mentioned before, is gorgeous, the characters well fleshed out and the story engaging. I honestly don’t have as much to say about it as you would think. I liked it. A lot. And I will read the next book Raeder writes. Take from that what you will.

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