Teach Me

Teach Me

4.1 84
by R.A. Nelson
     
 

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Teach Me invites readers inside an experience that fascinates everyone—an affair between a teacher and student—and gives an up-close-and-personal answer to the question: How does this happen?

The hardcover edition of Teach Me was a Booksense Fall 2006 Kid’s Pick, a TeenReads.com Best Book of 2005, and a selection for the 2006

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Overview

Teach Me invites readers inside an experience that fascinates everyone—an affair between a teacher and student—and gives an up-close-and-personal answer to the question: How does this happen?

The hardcover edition of Teach Me was a Booksense Fall 2006 Kid’s Pick, a TeenReads.com Best Book of 2005, and a selection for the 2006 NYPL Books for the Teen Age.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although Nelson shows courage in tackling a controversial topic-the sexual relationship between a teacher and high-school student-too much rings false in this contemporary debut novel. The affair itself seems highly improbable. Narrator Carolina, a senior who is "a little top-heavy in the sciences," takes a poetry class and falls head-over-heels in love with her English teacher, Mr. Mann, who starts visiting her at the hamburger joint where she works. One night after work he leads her behind the local Wal-Mart for the first of many make-out sessions (Mr. Mann does have the sense to wait until Carolina turns 18 before he sleeps with her). Despite the flirting that goes on at school, no one (not even Carolina's best friend Schuyler, who knows she has a crush on her teacher) suspects how far things have gone. The affair ends abruptly when Mr. Mann becomes engaged to another woman, and Carolina resorts to some childish acts of revenge. Even readers who are able to swallow the melodramatic events may have trouble believing the heroine, who is smart enough to throw out obscure references ("Keep your war girdle on, Hippolyte," she tells Schuyler), yet too naive to see that she is being victimized. The book sends a mixed message to young adults. It's unclear what, if anything, Carolina has learned from her mistakes, and in a dramatic rescue scene, Mr. Mann, who is never penalized for his sexual and emotional abuse, is cast disturbingly as a tragic hero. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Carolina, a high school senior, has never had a serious boyfriend. When her English teacher Mr. Mann shows interest in her, they begin an intense affair. Once Mr. Mann breaks off the relationship and marries another woman, Carolina becomes obsessed. Carolina's stalking escalates until she nearly destroys not only Mr. Mann and his new wife, but also her best friend Schuyler and herself. While student-teacher relationships are a reality and should be included in young adult fiction, this one is rather unrealistic and does a grave disservice to the moral implications of the affair and the aftermath for both for Carolina and Mr. Mann. While it is interesting to make Carolina such a gray character, the book never really explores Mr. Mann's role in causing her obsession. Carolina, by the end of the book, is a borderline raving lunatic, rather than the victim, albeit willing, of an authority figure. Her friend Schuyler helps her with her stalking and revenge, but one wonders what his motivations are for aiding Carolina in such blatantly illegal actions. Mr. Mann is portrayed as a victim of not only Carolina's stalking, but also of circumstances that, according to him, are beyond his control. The plot is basically a bad "woman scorned" novel, rather than exploring the extra emotional dimension of a teacher abusing his power over a student. 2005, Penguin, Ages 14 up.
—Amie Rose Rotruck
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Carolina is a high-school senior who feels she is too smart and mature for small-town Alabama life. Then she meets Mr. Mann, the new language arts teacher who is obsessed with Emily Dickinson. After she makes him feel at ease in his new job, she feels he is worthy of her attention, and the two begin an intense, clandestine affair, which is consummated on her 18th birthday. The love ends devastatingly for the teen when Mr. Mann suddenly dumps her and quickly marries another woman right before graduation. Carolina finally confides in her best friend, Schuyler, and he helps her try to figure out who Mr. Mann is and why he acted as he did. Nelson's writing is wonderfully eloquent and full of poetic references and wry humor, yet the plot and characters are occasionally chaotic. It is difficult to identify with Carolina, who not only thinks she's better than everyone else, but also goes to extreme lengths to seek revenge on her former lover. Mr. Mann is no more sympathetic. As his mystery unravels, readers discover, along with Carolina, how dull he is. Still, the story is juicy and cautionary without being preachy, which gives it wide teen appeal.-Jane Cronkhite, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nelson's debut is worthy of acclaim if for no other reason than it offers a bird's-eye view of the forbidden and fascinating relationship between a high-school student and her teacher, a subject previously unexplored to this depth in YA literature. This unflinchingly honest portrayal of how an innocent relationship can become an illicit one, begins when 17-year-old Nine invites readers into her intimate narrative with the opening line, "Welcome to my head." Nine details how her crush on Mr. Mann deepens as the attention he gives her becomes a little too familiar, and how it's not long before their relationship is consummated. It's easy to see how these two intelligent, emotional characters who share a love for Emily Dickinson could also share an attraction, but the circumstances forecast impending heartbreak. Ultimately, this is a doomed love story complete with the usual trappings of passion and betrayal, but made more gripping because it mirrors real-life cases such as Mary Kay Letourneau's taboo affair with her then 12-year-old student. Contemporary and compelling. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
Nelson’s vivid, hypnotic prose never falters . . . (Horn Book)

Standout debut novel . . .(VOYA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440635571
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
03/22/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
347,246
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Physics of Falling

Welcome to my head.

Let's hit the ground running. I will get you up to speed. We need a short learning curve here. Those are things my Dad likes to say. He works for NASA. He spends his days figuring out problems like this: If an object weighing 8.75 ounces traveling 10,000 miles per hour strikes the earth, how big a hole does it create?

Answer: One exactly the size of my heart.

Call me Nine.

Everybody does. When I was three I couldn't pronounce Carolina; it came out Caronina. My math-crazy father thought that was cute and shortened it to Nine.

Right now I'm sitting with my parents in Mom's Victorian Room surrounded by drapes with tassels, photographs of long-decomposed relatives. And on today's menu:

I've broken my mother's heart. All because at this penultimate moment in my 18-year-old life, two weeks before Senior Prom, I'm just not interested.

"But you're so smart, Nine," Mom sputters.

Exactement, I want to say. Don't you know that boys don't like smart girls? But men-

I look out the window so they can't see my eyes.

My teacher, Mr. Mann, said the same thing the day the craziness started that knocked my heart out of its orbit.

Two hours later, behind the Wal-Mart Rule the World Super Center, he kissed me.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Nelson’s vivid, hypnotic prose never falters . . . (Horn Book)

Standout debut novel . . .(VOYA)

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