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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 NYPL


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

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

Standout debut novel . . .(VOYA)

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)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
14 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)

Meet the Author

R.A. Nelson lives in Madison, Alabama.  Teach Me was awarded the Dona Vaughn SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant.

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4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
snelbs More than 1 year ago
Anyone who doesn¿t want a boring cliché love story

If you heard about a scandalous book about a student having an affair with a teacher, wouldn¿t you want to read it? I certainly did. Doesn¿t everyone want to read something that might be slightly inappropriate? Don¿t deny it, you know you want to. Teach Me by R.A. Nelson is just that. I read this book in a day. It is officially one of my favorites. I didn¿t want to do my school work because I wanted to read. I strongly suggest this to anyone who doesn¿t want a boring or cliché love story. This book is funny, sad, and definitely suspenseful.
The book starts off in the middle with, ¿Welcome to my head. Let¿s hit the ground running¿. Carolina ¿Nine¿ Livingston starts off her senior year in high school a little differently then normally. She decides she¿s ¿a little top heavy on sciences¿, so she decides to take a poetry class. There¿s a new teacher this year, and nobody knows anything about him. Nine is immediately attracted to her new teacher, Mr. Mann. She¿s normally very quiet in class, but she seems to speak up while in Mr. Mann¿s class. His odd ways of teaching help Nine relate to him. She finds herself talking to Mr. Mann more outside of class, and soon, driving past his apartment complex in her car, Wilkie Collins. Nine realizes she is falling deep in love with her teacher, and can¿t get enough of him. Let¿s just say she learns a lot more about love, life, and everything else then she does about Emily Dickinson.
Throughout the book, I couldn¿t figure out if Carolina and Mr. Mann were actually going to work out. Nine accidentally leaks her obsession to her best friend, Schuyler. He immediately knows what¿s going on, and doesn¿t approve. Nine and Schuyler have a weird relationship. They kissed once, but never spoke of it again. Just think about how Schuyler feels hearing all of this. Things really change once Nine turns 18. I¿m sure you can imagine what happened then. Suddenly, her heart is broken. Mr. Mann won¿t tell her why it has to stop (because it just being plain wrong isn¿t a good enough reason). Nine desperately tries to get back at him, but just ends up embarrassing herself in the process. Nothing will seem to work to satisfy her craving, if you will, for him. The novel ends with insanity, a shooting, a car crash, and a hospital visit. It¿s all incredibly suspenseful.
With Nelson living here in Alabama, it¿s interesting to read a book about places we know. I was immediately hooked. It¿s weird, knowing that this type of thing happens all the time. I¿d just never paid too much attention to it I guess. Now I look at teachers differently. Not in a sexual way, good Lord no, just differently. Knowing that student-teacher affairs happen so often, it¿s just strange to think about. This was a very quick read. I didn¿t want to put it down. But it wasn¿t a quick read in an ¿I want to finish this¿ way, quick as in fast-paced and suspenseful. I highly recommend this book to whoever wants a different, twisted kind of novel. It is definitely one of my all-time favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book should be read by both teachers and students as a primer for why not to have an affair in a student/teacher relationship. A girl obsessed with excelling in her school work and little social aptitude finally has her social buttons pushed by a poetry teacher. This brainiac transfers her obsession from academics to a passion for her teacher. Who says intelligent people don't make dumb decisions. It's a wonderful love story about first love! It suggests that maybe it's better to be balanced in social pursuits and academic pursuits rather than obsessed with either one! Very realistic in describing what a young girl feels before she has any actual experience with love.
FlipThePage More than 1 year ago
i loved this book so much i actually thought about reading it again! it was such a good book and i got so happy on the good turn outs but then in some parts it becomes sad and you want to cry. i loved this book because in ways you can really relate to the character when she feels the love for her teacher. not in the since that you would fall for your teacher but in the since of falling in love.
BetsyLove More than 1 year ago
Teach Me is undeniably THE BEST book I have ever read. I enjoyed it very much, taking into consideration that I myself had a crush on a teacher. Teach Me certainly does take you into the fantasy some of us wish we could enter, but is forbidden. I have re-read this book a few times and never get tired of it. I even discover little things I didn't notice before. The book had parts that made me cry and understand what Carolina (main character) was feeling. I definitely reccomend it to any teenager who's crushing on their teacher and wishes for more, or even anyone who's wondered about a student-teacher affair. Read it!

Betsy :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an extreme success. I red it twenty times i loved it so much. It was extremeley well written and many teenagers who arent like all the others could relate to nine. This book is amazing and extremley well plotted. I recommend it to anyone who knows a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Teach me. R. A. Nelson¿s novel, Teach Me, is built around an extended metaphor. Carolina, the main character is taught both academically and emotionally throughout the novel. Unlike many teen books where the heroines come from broken families and have an angry attitude toward life, Nelson was able to create an interesting character with a good background. Carolina, nicknamed Nine by her NASA engineer father, lived in a home with two overprotective parents. She was responsible, focused, and passionate about life. Other than Schuyler, Nine¿s lifelong best friend, she had very little experience with boys. She was also scholarly driven and simply didn¿t have the time nor desire to fool around with relationships. Schuyler alone was her entire social life. They had pajama parties, they worked together, and were always there for each other. Throughout the entire novel, even as Nine struggles with accepting herself and what has become of her life, Schuyler is around giving moral support. Nine had always stuck by the rules, until she met Mr. Mann. Mr. Mann was the source of her internal breakdown. He was the new and mysterious English teacher whom Nine completely fell for. By fate, his previous teaching job transferred to a typical cliché high school in Huntsville, Alabama. His perplex personality and authentic ice blue eyes attracted his teenage students, especially Nine. He was intellectual and charming. Mr. Mann put on a brave front when in a crowd however, it is discovered that he was much weaker than he appeared. Despite their moral consciences of right and wrong Carolina, and Mr. Mann, Richard, began a secret love affair. They became romantically obsessed with one another. Things took a drastic turn when Richard broke off the relationship and immediately married someone else. Carolina took the betrayal harshly and became desperate, having to choose whether to give up or go after what she truly wanted, which was to be with Richard. Emily Dickinson¿s poetry was the basis for explaining not only the couples love, but also the hurt and treachery once they could no longer be together. Nine often described her own feelings through poetry. The novel continues in an emotional rollercoaster, as Carolina is forced to mature. Like a soap opera, this controversial novel draws in the audience and captivates them. Covering a generally unexplored topic, Nelson infuses the novel with character development and unusual humor. His short sentences and paragraphs keep the novel moving at a fast pace and engages each reader. Gracefully weaving in poetic references he makes the book simply irresistible. I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a genuine account of love¿s dramatic effects. Because of it¿s intensity and truly compelling plot, I was unable to put it down and depressed when the story ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
with this book, i felt so many different emotions that i didn't think could be brought out in a book.. up's and down's. definitely a good read - until the end. kind of a bummer the way it ended, but ah well. still, i would suggest it. :]
wheeze More than 1 year ago
TEACH ME is a love story, but curved in a different way. When Carolina, or "Nine" as she is called, falls in love with her teacher, Mr. Mann, things couldn't be better. After their affair has gone on, Mr. Mann calls it quits with her. Just ends it cold turkey. Carolina is shocked, why would the man she loves want to leave her? Instead of taking time to mourn her loss and control her emotions, Nine spins into a crazy stalker, so to speak. She follows Mr. Mann, sneaks into his apartment, watches him from his deck, anything just anything to be close to him. Until one rainy night when Nine is in trouble, and Mr. Mann is there to rescue her.. I like the story line, and plot to the story, but the writing was hard for me to enjoy. It was just another Young Adult novel where they think they have to have crazy names, crazy writings and crazy works to make a story work. I had a hard time following since each chapter doesn't start off with a clear cut point. The ending of the story was my favorite part. It brings everyone back to middle ground, but still that doesn't carry the book for more. I don't see this ending on my permament bookshelf at any time.
TeenBookLoVER More than 1 year ago
This book is sooooo amazing and whether or not you have a crush on your teacher you have to read this book....it is so thrilling and such a page-turner. I finished it in two hours because i just couldn't put it down! Every chapter and page leaves you longing to know what happens next. A MUST READ
puppyblew70000 More than 1 year ago
I used to have a major crush on a teacher previously, and I have to say that after reading this book, I've realized how rediculous I looked. This book puts a spin on the whole teacher/student relationship, and generally scared the crap out of me. It was really eye opening in the way I could relate to Nine and see myself doing some of the things that she did. This book is a MUST READ, and I completely agree about the primer comment. This really and truly is a wonderful story, and I cannot tell you how eye opening it really was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book. That actualy makes you stop and think about your life . It teaches a great lesson about making the right choices. But also taking risks to find out who you really are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just LOVED the book! I think nearly every girl has a 'Mr. Mann' once in her life, a mysterious, charming, adorable man in front of the class and you admire him, you fall in love but nothing ever happens. With this book you can give a try to 'what if I ever...'. And you can see what would probably happen to you. Reading 'teach me' was like falling in love with a teacher, it was like a trip from earth-to-heaven-to-hell and finally back to earth. READ THIS BOOK :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so scared of what would happen, i didn't finish reading it. The romancy parts were awesome, but when she found about the wife, and how he left her was just... crazy! I mean they had it so good! She loved him! Literally. It would have been so much better if they didn't break up! Truth be told, I never finished the entire book. I tried to build up my confidence and finish it... but i was too scared. I'd say just read until she's about to take her test, then drop it, return it or whatever! Still pretty good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first read the summary for this book, I thought it would be interesting. But the further I got into the book, the more disappointed I became. The main character, Nine, is hard to sympathize with because for basically the whole story she comes across as very condescending. She goes on and on about science, which only served as boring filler and made me more annoyed with her. I respect that she is supposed to be an intelligent girl (which is a key part of the plot), but the way she talks about other people made her completely unlikable to me. I had trouble even finishing this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read this book in quite a while but it is still one of absolute favorite books! It is one of the best books I have ever read - and I have read my fair share of books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im actually going to read this book again ! This book is undeniably unexplainable. I cant put in words how excellent this book is! The romance with a teacher ! Bad but once you start to read it oddly starts to get cute. There relationship... the book isnt promoting relations with a teacher just basically telling a wonderful romance story. How Nine evolves throughout the book to sane & in love to obsessed & heartbroken. Its basically saying be careful when you fall in love because love hurts and can make you do crazy things. No matter who your with. In Nines case very crazy things...
MeiB More than 1 year ago
Nine is a six foot tall amazon girl in her senior year of high school, and she's hot for teacher. Attacking her attraction with laser focus, she is amazed and astounded when her feelings are reciprocated. When the teacher suddenly breaks it off, Nine loses it. Will she find her way out of the madness? Review Unlike Uses for Boys, Teach Me actually had some redeeming features at the end of the painful slog. While it was written very similarly to Uses for Boys, it did have a much stronger vocabulary and more personality than that novel. That said, I still wasn't a big fan. There were several points when I would tell my husband "I'm slogging through, but I just wish it would end." The story is not told linearly, and can be a bit confusing. Nine was somewhat likable, though I lost any affection for her as the book went on. I just wanted to beat her over the head, or any of her "supportive" friends and family. It was bizarre that in her loving family, they just kind of "let her have her space" when their daughter was completely losing her mind. They even noted all of the signs of a major issue in their daughter, but then failed to do anything about it. I realize that this happens in real life, but it just seemed out of place in the novel. The teacher, Mr. Mann was just plain creepy in my mind. I saw a few review were people thought that he sounded dreamy. Yeah, no. As a character, he was a bit flat for me. I thought that he should have been more developed if he was going to attract the attention of a seventeen year old girl that strongly. Though, I suppose that since the book is primarily about Nine's obsession, the lack of description could have been yet another example of how unwarranted her attention was.  My Recommendation Since I didn't actually enjoy the book, I can't recommend that you read it. I think that if you want an exploration of the themes of this book, there are way better examples out there. (Even if I can't think of them off of the top of my head at the moment) I give it 2/5 - If it happens to be around, it's OK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intruiging. It was a great story written in the voice of a character that was kind of beautiful in all her imperfections and quirky traits. A must read at least once.
Owlmanafanatic16 More than 1 year ago
The love story between a high school student and a teacher. This was a great read. I loved all of the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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herondalexsam More than 1 year ago
I read this book over the summer and I couldn't put it down! I think we've all had a crush on a teacher once or twice in our lives, but this takes it to a whole other level! MUST READDD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago