Saturday, March 9, 2013

Teach Me by R.A. Nelson
Released: August 2005

Teach Me is R.A. Nelson's first novel, which has won a number of children and teen's book awards, including Best Teen Novel. Teach Me initially caught my eye because I've always been drawn to the taboo story about a love affair between teacher and student.

Sadly, I can't say that my high school ever had sexy or desirable teachers, so books of this nature always manage to fill that empty spot in my heart reserved for books featuring impossible high school cliches: such as handsome and sexy bad-boy jocks that fall for smart band nerds (never happens), aspiring journalists who publish the one article in the school newspaper that changes the way every other student thinks (definitely never happens), and your best friend of the opposite sex who has been madly in love with you for years, and you've never managed to see it...

...moving on to the plot for Teach Me.

Carolina "Nine" Livingston is an intelligent (near-genius) senior in high school always devoted to showing up for school and maintaining a high GPA. Nine's best friend and confidante is Schuyler, a male (of course) who shares Nine's passion for useless trivia, classic movies, and literature.

Having never really dated or kissed a boy before (except that one time years ago when she kissed Schuyler on the lips during a snowstorm - it was totally friendly through), Nine's world is thrown into a tizzy when she begins to fall for her new English teacher, Mr. Mann. Not only do Mr. Mann's teaching methods introduce Nine to new poets and revelations about classic literature (not to mention life and love), but his good looks, easy banter, and manner of treating Nine like an adult causes her to fall head over heels, and not in a healthy way.

It's not long before Nine and Mr. Mann embark on a torrid and taboo love affair that ends just as abruptly as it begins. Failing to accept or understand the reason for the break-up, Nine becomes obsessed with proving to Mr. Mann that she's the right woman for him.

R.A. Nelson is a brilliant writer - his prose far surpasses the story itself in Teach Me. The levels of intellect and creativity Nelson bequeaths to his characters is this novel are just ingenious - I don't even care if Nine, Mr. Mann, and Schuyler are undeserving of these traits. I would recommend Teach Me to readers just for its dialogue and original concepts alone.

I have no desire to dissect and analyze Nine's obsession for Mr. Mann. Nine may be book-smart, but she's still an emotionally-undeveloped teenager unable to properly process and handle her feelings and emotions where Mr. Mann is concerned. Up to this point, Nine's always been a good girl.

As far as Mr. Mann goes - what man wouldn't want to involve himself with a sexy, intelligent 18-year-old female he shares a number of interests with even if the relationship is off-limits? Nothing original to see here, people, keep moving.

As a reader, you'll probably enjoy the journey experienced while reading Teach Me far more than the end-destination, which feels small compared to the rest of this novel.

R.A. Nelson has also written Breathe My Name, Days of Little Texas, and Throat. Fans of student-teacher relationship plots should also check out Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard.

Click on any of the books below to review them in more detail on

What novels have you read that feature student-teacher romances? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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