In this sexy and intriguing novel, an intense—and passionate—bond between a high school senior and her music teacher becomes a public scandal that threatens the reputation of both.
Bea has a secret.
Actually, she has more than one. There’s her dream for the future that she can’t tell anyone—not her father and not even her best friend, Plum.
And now there’s Dane Rossi. Dane is hot, he shares Bea’s love of piano, and he believes in her.
He’s also Bea’s teacher.
When their passion for music crosses into passion for each other, Bea finds herself falling completely for Dane. She’s never felt so wanted, so understood, so known to her core. But the risk of discovery carries unexpected surprises that could shake Bea entirely. Bea must piece together what is and isn’t true about Dane, herself, and the most intense relationship she’s ever experienced in this absorbing novel from Nancy Ohlin, the author of Beauty.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Nancy Ohlin is the author of Consent; Always, Forever; and Beauty. She is also the author of the Shai & Emmie series with Quevenzhané Wallis. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Nancy divided her time between there and Ohio. She received a BA in English from the University of Chicago, and she lives in Ithaca, New York, with her family. Learn more at NancyOhlin.com.
Read an Excerpt
It’s the first day of senior year—or as Plum puts it, “The Year Before Our Real Lives Can Finally Begin.” At lunch she and I eat Kraft cheese and French dressing sandwiches together in the cafetorium.
What an awful word: “cafetorium.” It sounds like a monster in a Syfy movie. The reality isn’t much better. At Andrew Jackson High School, a.k.a. A-Jax, it is a vast, impersonal, mental-asylum space with milk-colored walls and the forever stench of boiled meat. The inmates within are many, noisy, and dangerous.
Plum and I started Mad Sandwich Mondays sophomore year—the “wise fool” year, the year when we thought we would be stuck in the never-ending loop of high school and not–high school for eternity. We take turns bringing each other odd combinations, like peanut butter–cucumber, pineapple-mayo, and bacon–Marshmallow Fluff.
“This is actually good,” I say, taking a bite of my sandwich. “It’s weirdly comforting.”
“My mom used to eat these when she was little. Hey, Bea?”
“Have you thought about what I said? About Harvard? Because the Early Action deadline is November first, and we should really get cracking on the application.”
“Oh, yeah. That.”
Over the summer Plum got the idea that we should go to Harvard together. She thinks we have a good chance of getting in because we have the two highest GPAs in school. I told her that my cousin Jin didn’t get into Harvard, and he had a 4.0, perfect regular and subject SATs, and a letter of recommendation from a U.S. senator, from some swank internship. Of course, this didn’t faze her one bit. The word “impossible” is not in Plum’s vocabulary.
Now she reaches into her backpack and extracts her sparkly gold notebook—nicknamed “The Golden Notebook,” after Doris Lessing’s novel. On the first page are an A list and a B list of the colleges she wants us to apply to. Harvard is at the very top and has a big pink heart around it. Included, too, are a bunch of due dates and requirements: transcripts, test scores, the Common App, et cetera. The guidance counselor, Miss Beaven, is supposed to be doing all this, but with 798 seniors to get through, she’s probably slammed.
Plus, she’s Miss Beaven. Plum and I try not to talk to her or any other adults at A-Jax unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Plum sits up with an excited flutter of hands. “I know! Let’s go on a road trip to Boston. Columbus Day weekend! I’ve heard it really helps to visit the schools, do the tours, and suck up to the admissions people.” She blushes. “I mean, ‘make a good impression on.’ ”
I laugh. “It’s okay to say ‘suck up.’ Just not to their faces.”
Her eyes light up. “So we can go?”
“No, that’s not what I—”
But she is already looking at her calendar, rattling off dates, and talking about borrowing her parents’ Prius so we can save on gas.
I eat my Kraft cheese and French dressing sandwich and let Plum’s Disney-cheerful voice wash over me.
Maybe I should remind her that the heroine of The Golden Notebook has a mental breakdown.
Maybe I should just skip college altogether and become a cafetorium lady.
• • •
No, I’m not one of those slackers who want to check out after high school and drift aimlessly through life. Not like my brother, Theo, who at age twenty-nine still works at CVS, shares a house with six other guys, and plays guitar for a garage band called the Angry Weasels. I think he thinks that beer is one of the four major food groups.
I’m also not depressed. I know all about depression from health class, the not eating and not sleeping and not wanting to get out of bed, and that’s definitely not me.
It’s just that I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. Pretty much the only thing I enjoy doing besides hanging out with Plum is playing the piano. But there’s no way I can become a professional musician. Plus, lately, that part of my life has lost its spark and momentum—I’m not sure why.
Also, it’s not like anyone in my family shows any interest in my future whatsoever. Sometimes I envy those kids with the pushy helicopter parents, like Cassie Lindstrom’s mom, who videotapes her voice lessons and postmortems them afterward, or Zach Cormier’s dad, who puts his dance clips on YouTube and tweets about them:
@zachcorm made it to the finals at Nationals! Woot!
The only person who’s pushing me forward is Plum. And really, she’s just imposing her own blueprint on me, because as far as she’s concerned, we’re identical twins.
But we’re not. We are so not.
I love her, but she has no clue. About my future, my past, anything.
Although maybe that’s something we have in common.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very morally complicated novel. For the last half of the book, my stomach and throat were sick, tight knots. I've never read a book that's done what this did to me. Bea Kim is a secret piano prodigy with a made-up piano teacher. Her mother was a Julliard educated pianist who died giving birth to her. This is why Bea and her relationships with her lawyer father and slacker brother have always been strained: she can't help but blame herself for her mother's death; neither can they. She's stifled her dreams for piano to keep from hurting her father, who sees his dead wife every time he looks at it. Instead, Beatrice has taught herself everything she knows. When her senior year begins, her best friend Plum puts them each on the fast track for Harvard. Bea is indifferent and aimless: her grades are perfect, but she doesn't care about them, she is passionate about piano, but doesn't dare pursue it. She signed up for music theory class on a whim and then she meets the substitute teacher, Mr. Rossi, who accidentally learns of Bea's skill. He soon becomes Dane as they grow closer, ultimately culminating in an affair. This novel deals more with the build-up and ensuing fallout of it. This isn't a book about a teacher-student romance. This is a book about a girl's harsh journey through today's complicated morals, unspoken rules, written laws, and what happens when you break them. This is also about a girl who's been afraid and hal-apoligetic her entire life finally gaining the courage to chase her dream. There are so many different ways you can read this story. Was Dane a good man and teacher trying and failing to resist his student whe falling hopelessly for her? Or a dangerous predator preying on a young, confused girl? For ME, he fell in between, leaning more toward the positive light than the negative: I believe he genuinely cared for and wanted to help (and did!) Bea, but had some sketchy things lurking in his past and behaved in ways contrary to what he promised Bea. The ending was very abrupt, but it fit the story. I still wish I was given more closure, though. One review I read called it "satisfyingly unsatisfying." I agree 100%. Overall, a great book, but not one I could read again. Not because I disliked it, but because...I'm really not quite sure how to say it. It's a little sad for me. And confuses me. I don't know how to feel about it (which is what I think Ohlin was aiming for: no definitive right or wrong). Despite this, I know I will continue to think about Bea and her story for a very, very long time.
Between all of the lies she tells at school about her non-existent piano teacher and her supposedly okay home life, Beatrice Kim has a lot of secrets even before starting her senior year at Andrew Jackson High School. Then Bea meets her music history teacher. Mr. Rossi is young, good-looking, and completely believes in Bea's potential as a professional pianist--something Bea hasn't ever allowed herself to consider. When their shared passion for music turns into something else, Bea and Rossi begin a sexual relationship that could ruin them both. Bea thinks she knows what she is doing and what she wants. She thinks Rossi understands her and loves her. But with the threat of discovery looming, Bea will have to confront uncomfortable truths about herself and her relationship with Rossi in Consent (2015) by Nancy Ohlin. Consent delivers two stories in one slim volume. One, reminiscent of Sara Zarr's The Lucy Variations, explores how Bea lost her love for the piano and how she can reclaim it; the other is an often uncomfortable examination of a relationship that never should have happened. Despite the problems Bea hints at in her home life and the lies she tells, everything comes very easily to Bea in Consent. She is at the top of her class despite having no real interest in college. She is a piano prodigy with perfect pitch although she has never had formal lessons. She is also, conveniently, at a recently rebranded "Campus for Baccalaureate and Performing Arts" despite having a nearly pathological desire to avoid the piano at the beginning of the novel. Readers who can get past these contrivances will be rewarded with a layered and thoughtful contemporary novel. The push and pull between what is perceived and what is true throughout Consent adds another dimension to Bea's often unreliable first person narration as readers, and Bea herself, contemplate Rossi's agenda. Despite some heavy-handed moments, Ohlin delivers an open-ended novel ripe for discussion as readers follow the plot's twists and turns.