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.
**This review contains spoilers**
Leah Raeder gave a whole new meaning to the genera “New Adult”! I cannot believe I waited this long to read Unteachable. I’ve read a few teacher/student romances but nothing as eloquent or as magical as this one. A forbidden love, the poetic way the words have formed to tell their story and the secrecy it holds, the whole time in my head I was waiting for something to happen, something to destroy them, their secrets to come out, and they did.
Maise O’Malley a barely 18 year old senior hasn't had it easy. No father, an alcoholic, drug usinging, drug dealing mother who left her to pretty much to raise herself. A plethora of older men paraded in and out of her life has left her with a desire for older men.
I felt like I was riding a roller coaster in this book, which is pretty much where the book really started for me. Maise is feeling brave, she's drunk, she steps up to ride the rollercoaster and he’s there, taking the seat next to her. The series of events that unfold from this moment onward had my stomach in knots and my head swimming with ideas of where this book was going.
Evan, a 32 year old teacher, notices Maise on the rollercoaster, sitting alone, he joins her. The way she carries herself leads Evan to believe the lies Maise tells him. She only wants one thing from Evan, and she knows how to get it.
“You can call it love or you can call it freefall. They’re pretty much the same thing.”
The first day of Film Studies class, she is surprised to see Evan, the man she spent a passionate night with and never thought she would see again, realisation hits, Evan is her teacher.
Evans character I could never really grasp onto, it was like he was there, but he wasn't, and maybe thats how its supposed to be, we focus solely on Maise and what her life is, and what it’s becoming. I was intrigued by his character and the little snippets we found out about him through the story. I thought he was hiding so much more, but really he was just as broken and just as lost as she was. Which is why they fit so well together.
They tilt over the line so many times in their “forbidden romance” not that it ever felt like that to me. Yes she’s 18, its legal, yes he’s her teacher, but their relationship was so much more. Whether it was their age or their “roles” It felt like they needed each other to escape the fucked-upness of their lives. There was an overwhelming feeling of possessiveness and dysfunction and I wondered a lot, if their relationship would last after the high of it being new and wrong, the sneaking around, the getaways, the late night visits, but it did, its like it only made their love grow.
“Were we sabotaging it? Were we trying to heighten the danger to eke out some pathetic erotic thrill? Did we want someone to know, to stop us?”
When people find out about what they share, it’s exploited, its used as bribery, its Maise turning into her mother to save the one person who really never needed to be saved. It was like it was easier to give up because they were doomed from the beginning, but its what happens after the shit storm where the book completely shocked me.
"For a long time before I met you, I felt like my life was this kind of test. I was in deep, cold water, swimming for shore, and my arms were getting tired, my skin numb. On the shore was everything I thought I wanted; a better job, a house, a family.” He swallowed, his throat cording with tension. “But I could barely keep my head above water. Eventually I stopped seeing the shore. Only cold dark blue, in all directions. I know its cliche, but when I met you, my eyes opened. I looked around, and realized I could stand up whenever I wanted. There was firm ground under my feel. That shore in the distance is an illusion. I was already somewhere beautiful."
I want to say so much more, but I’m pretty sure I’ve said way too much already. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. The poeticness, the adultness, the struggle everything in this book made it a 5 star read and it will most certainly stay with me for a long time. One of my new favorite books, ever! Leah Reader is set to release her next book “Black Iris” and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us.
*Review by Kayla
I was born in the 80s, which means I have fantastic taste in music and atrocious taste in hair. I knew at eight years old that I wanted to be a published author when I grew up. Of course, when I was eight, “published author” was a glamorous daydream where I spent all day in bookstores, signing hardcovers and posing for photos with fans. In reality, authordom involves lots of bourbon-scented tears and neurotic self-doubt. At least there are fewer mullets.
As well as being a writer, I’m a voracious and omnivorous reader. Seriously. I read everything from contemporary Young Adult to dense, doorstop literary fiction. Some of my favorite writers are Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender is the Night), and Jeanette Winterson (Written on the Body). I’m a total poetry geek, too—my two absolute favorites are Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath.
All the pretty colors on this website were made by me. In my non-bookish life, I’m a graphic designer.
I’m from Chicago and have lived all over the world, from NYC to LA to Tehran, Iran. I currently live in the Windy City with my partner, Alexander, who’s very understanding about all this girlsmut business.