What I'm Reading

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Even When You Lie to Me is Jessica Alcott's debut, and oh my word is it stunning.  Sometimes you come across a new author and think, "Wow!  How can this be a debut?"  It's just that good.  And Even When You Lie to Me is that good. 


Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Charlie, a senior, isn't looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.

But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he's the only one who gets her.

She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.

In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships-and their boundaries-in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic.

The description had me hook, line, and sinker, and not just because I studied English in undergraduate and graduate student.  I know that the whole teacher-student relationship may be a bit overdone and clich√©, but Even When You Lie to Me offers an interesting and less-explored perspective by focusing on the student.  The result is a complex and intimate examination of why a young woman would be attracted to her teacher, and the book creates an intricate and emotionally powerful portrayal of the familial relationships and friendships that shape Charlie and drive her desire.

Even When You Lie to Me is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you can look past the "icky" and morally problematic premise, it is so worth it.  I can't remember the last time I read a book that captures so well the nature of desire, particularly burgeoning adolescent desire.  Charlie is such a well-drawn and complex character, and Alcott does an amazing job of showing the circumstances, situations, and relationships that shape her attraction to Mr. Drummond.  In fact, I think that Alcott hits the nail on the head for anyone who has ever sought or even felt like they needed the approval and praise of authority figures, illustrating how this sort of desire often goes back to childhood and the home.  

Five out of five stars.

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