Unteachableby Leah Raeder
An edgy, sexy USA TODAY bestseller about falling for the one person you can’t have.
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/i>
An edgy, sexy USA TODAY bestseller about falling for the one person you can’t have.
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.
Maise hooks up with a man with whom she shared intense, passionate chemistry the summer before her senior year of high school. When she arrives to class she discovers that her summer hookup is the new film teacher. Can they keep their hands off each other and stop their attraction from showing?
- Atria Books
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Read an Excerpt
WHEN you’re eighteen, there’s fuck-all to do in a southern Illinois summer but eat fried pickles, drink PBR tallboys you stole from your mom, and ride the Tilt-a-Whirl till you hurl. Which is exactly what I was doing the night I met Him.
It was the kind of greenhouse August heat that feels positively Jurassic. Everything was melting a little: the liquid black sky, the silver-gel-penned stars, the neon lights bleeding color everywhere. All summer there’s a carnival a mile from my house, in a no-man’s-land rife with weeds and saw grass, a sea of flat earth. It felt like the edge of forever out there. I cracked a tallboy and it echoed like a rifle shot. I took a swig of that pissy weak stuff, savoring the coolness. I was sitting on a picnic bench, watching the roller coaster go up and down and up again, the joyous screams phasing in and out like a distant radio station. Roller coasters scare me, and it has everything to do with me losing my stuffed bunny George when I was five. George fell from a hundred feet in the sky when I threw my hands up in cruel, careless glee. Mom sewed new eyes on, but I cried and cried and said he was dead until she let me bury him in the backyard. We made a coffin out of a Froot Loops box. Mom, so drunk she was crying, too, gave the eulogy.
So maybe part of why I was out here tonight was because I was tired of being a kid, stuck with kid fears and kid memories. Senior year would start in two weeks. I wanted to go in already an adult.
I pounded the last of the beer and crushed the can on the bench.
My name’s Maise, by the way. Maise O’Malley. Yeah, I’m Irish as hell. But you probably knew that from the drinking, right?
I went into the carnival. Apparently, a breaking news bulletin had just gone out about my legs: three pairs of wolf eyes looked over instantly, then moved down, up, down, the old broken elevator gaze. It’s always the older guys, too. But I’m kind of screwed up from growing up without a father, and I like when they try to daddy me.
Try being the operative word, as Mr. Wilke says.
But we’ll get to him.
I smiled at no one, sauntering past stalls stuffed with popcorn and pretzels and corn dogs, snow cones and cotton candy. The air was drugged with sugar and salt. It made my head spin. A bell rang nearby and someone whooped triumphantly. I passed the rigged games—milk bottles, darts—where people stubbornly threw money at the carny, desperate to win some giant lice-ridden teddy fresh out of a Taiwanese sweatshop.
Mr. Wilke says I’m both cynical and worldly for my age. I choose to take them both as compliments.
I wasn’t ready to face the roller coaster yet, so I rode the merry-go-round for a while, going for the full Lolita effect as I lifted a leg high and slowly, slowly draped it over a painted horse, reveling in how uncomfortable I made all the parents. One man kept glancing in my direction until his kid pulled his sleeve and snapped, “Dad!” I raised an eyebrow coolly. Too bad I didn’t have any bubble gum.
Finally the beer had charged up my blood. I marched over to the YOU MUST BE THIS TALL sign. The line was short. It was getting late, for a weeknight.
Then I saw the name of the roller coaster.
I almost turned around right there. Stupid, yeah, but PTSADS doesn’t care how stupid a trigger is.
If you need me to spell that out, it’s Post-Traumatic Stuffed Animal Death Syndrome. I thought it was pretty funny. Mom and the psychologist did not. The psychologist said I had substituted George for Dad and I actually had post-dad syndrome. I told her George was a fucking bunny.
“You getting on?” the carny said. He had so much acne he looked like a halftone comic, like when you peer really close at a newspaper and everything that looked solid is just little dots.
I gave him my ticket.
The assholes on this ride had decided to take every single car except the front. Again, I almost turned around. I did turn, actually, and saw a guy behind me, so I turned back and got into the empty car because I was not going to chicken out in front of the entire universe. Best-case scenario: I close my eyes for four minutes and get a free blow-dry. Worst-case scenario: I fall from a hundred feet in the air, and there’s no sewing my eyes back on.
The door to my car opened.
It was the guy. He raised his eyebrows questioningly, and I shrugged. He got in.
At least I might die next to a hot guy.
Revised worst-case scenario: I throw up on him, we both die.
“You’re pretty brave,” he said, lowering the bar over us. “Must be a veteran, sitting up front.”
“It’s my first time,” I said. Well, first time on my own terms.
He smiled. It lit his face like a camera flash. “Mine too.”
Then Deathsnake lurched forward, toward doom.
It’s a trick, the way it starts. There’s a loud, creepy ratcheting, like some massive clockwork grinding beneath you, but the car just farts along inconspicuously. People behind us were talking about stupid shit. Some girl told someone to put away his phone and I prayed that he wouldn’t and that it was expensive. The guy next to me looked out over the fairgrounds as we ascended, and I peered past him, but my attention was split. Beyond him, a confetti of lights and fey music, all the ugly carny weirdness rendered magical thanks to distance. But my eyes kept catching on his face. From below it was traced with red neon, from above with metallic moonlight, sketching out a bold, almost sulky chin, lips that looked too soft and sensitive for a man. His eyelashes were a fringe of furry gold. I couldn’t see his eyes from this angle.
He looked over suddenly and I whipped my head away. “What a view,” he said.
“Tell me about it,” I mumbled.
I could feel him smiling.
“Oh, shit,” someone said behind us.
And we dropped.
I’m not going to do the whole roller-coaster/falling-in-love metaphor. I didn’t fall in love with him up there. Maybe I fell in love with the idea of love, but I’m a teenage girl. This morning I fell in love with raspberry jam and a puppy in a tiny raincoat. I’m not exactly Earth’s top authority on the subject.
But when we crested the first peak and the world sprawled beneath us like a tangled-up string of Christmas lights and then we plunged toward it at light speed, the guy and I reached for each other’s hands spontaneously and simultaneously.
And I felt something I’ve never felt before.
You can call it love, or you can call it free fall. They’re pretty much the same thing.
When Deathsnake glided to a stop, we both looked like we’d stuck our fingers in electric sockets. Einstein hair, Steve Buscemi eyes. The guy had screamed more than I did. I mostly laughed, at his screaming, at my fear, and finally at how good it felt to be alive right then and there. Not once had I thought of George or my mother or my sad life.
The guy—who I mentally upgraded to The Guy, capital letters—offered me a hand out of the car. We still had shit-eating grins plastered on our faces.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Helping me lose my roller-coaster virginity.”
I don’t think he meant to flirt, but he blushed anyway. He looked at me a little closer.
This is the part where they realize you’re jailbait.
“How old are you?” he said, right on cue.
I love what that does to their faces. Old enough to . . . fill in the blank.
But The Guy only smiled. “I don’t want your parents to think I’m some creep.”
He could have said, I’m a teacher, and everything would have been different.
“I’m here by myself,” I said. “All that matters is whether I think you’re some creep.”
“Let’s test that hypothesis.” And I headed for the exit.
I knew exactly what he was seeing from the rear view. The cutoff jean shorts, the creamy legs sleek and slender as a filly’s, the tight tee, the cascade of burnished chestnut hair. I was, perhaps, very slightly, flouncing. Normally I’m cool and collected. But I was giddy from the heights and this beautiful man paying attention to me. I still hadn’t really seen him head-on, so in my mind he became a pastiche of male models and movie stars.
“How do you feel about centrifugal force?” I said over my shoulder.
“Totally against it.”
“Great. Next up is the Gravitron.”
The line here was longer, and when he caught up we turned to each other, and I did a double take.
There was the sensitive mouth I’d seen earlier, the lips that looked made for poetry and murmuring sweet French nothings in cologne commercials. Je te veux, mon chéri. But now there was a whole face to go with them, and that face—oh my god. You know when a swimmer gets out of a pool, and they’re radiant and flushed, mouth open a little, eyelashes dewy and sparkling, squinting like they’ve just come back from another world? He had that look, permanently. Like he wasn’t really from here. He was some beautiful thing coming up from a beautiful place, squinting amiably at our brightness and filth. I could give you the technical specs—cheekbones high and chiseled, straight patrician nose, tall forehead, boyishly handsome—but it was the expression that made him beautiful.
He’d said something to me and I was just gaping like an idiot. “What?”
That smile again. Like a flashbulb going off, freezing you in the moment.
“Did you know you can walk on the wall while it’s spinning?”
“It’s nuts. You’ll feel like a superhero. They won’t let you do it now, but if you hang around till closing and slip them some cash, they’ll look the other way.”
My eyes must have lit up at this. The Guy leaned in suddenly, tilting his face.
But he just stared at my eyes, as if searching for a stray eyelash. A free wish.
“What are you doing?” I whispered, hoping I didn’t have beer breath.
“Green,” he said, and leaned back. “I wanted to know the color.”
“Why? So the police can identify my body later?”
Thankfully, he laughed. We handed over our tickets.
“Five bucks says you scream,” I said.
They lined us up against the wall. Lights went off. Marquees blinked on. The giant steel saucer began to spin. They were really going for the UFO effect here.
“Someday they’ll make spaceships like this,” I said. “So the astronauts can walk around.”
“Like in 2001: A Space Odyssey.”
“The movie. You’ve never seen it? It’s a classic.”
That was the first time I felt the difference in our ages.
“How old are you?” I said.
“Old enough,” he said, and we both laughed.
My bones stuck to the wall like magnets. I tried to raise my arm, but it weighed a hundred pounds. The boards we stood against rose off the floor, our feet levitating. A girl near me giggled uncontrollably. The saucer was still accelerating, flattening my insides, making me feel both weightless and infinitely heavy. I tensed my legs and raised them straight out, sitting in midair. The Guy grinned at me. His gaze lingered on my legs, and the edges of his grin softened, and even though my stomach was a pancake, something in it fluttered. Little two-dimensional paper butterflies.
The UFO reached maximum velocity. I let my legs slam back down. I wanted to feel like this all the time, like I was rushing through the universe, everything intense and pressed right up against my skin. The Guy gave a wild, jubilant yell. The giggling girl sounded like she was drowning. At that moment I knew every single person on the ride wanted it to go faster, faster, blood pooling at the backs of our skulls, until we were tingling and dizzy and flew apart into a million particles of happiness.
I had trouble getting my balance when we came down. The Guy rooted in his pocket for something. He took my hand.
He pressed a five-dollar bill into my palm. “You win.”
I felt weirdly sheepish. I didn’t want to take his money. “I was just kidding.”
“I’m a man of my word.”
Yes. You’re a man, a very pretty one who’s being very nice to me, and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
“Fine. Let’s support the economy,” I said, waving the bill at the game stalls.
We decided the least-rigged game was the water gun race, because it had a winner every round. I paid up and sat next to a little boy whose mom stood behind him, maneuvering his arms like a puppet. On my other side was a fat drunk guy who smelled like sausage. He leered at me.
This would be cake.
I grabbed my WWII-era machine water gun and took aim at the bull’s-eye dead ahead. The carny counted down. Three. Two.
I brushed Fatso’s bare leg with my calf.
The little boy lost before it even began. He started crying, and his mom snapped at him and seized the gun. She only managed to squirt out a tragic, flaccid little stream before her kid burst into wails and she pulled him off the seat.
“And Seven drops out,” The Guy announced, as the carny stared at us with sullen boredom. “A sad day for Team Seven. Six has the lead now, but Five is gaining fast.”
I hit my bull’s-eye flawlessly. My marker rose smooth and steady.
Fatso had pretty good aim, too. We were neck and neck.
I rubbed my calf along his hairy shin.
“But wait! Five is falling behind! He seems to be losing focus. Can he pull it together?”
I hooked my foot around the back of Fatso’s leg. Dragged my toes up his meaty ham hock.
Ding ding ding!
“Winner! Number Six by a landslide.”
I turned a huge smile on Fatso. “Sorry, mister.”
He wasn’t mad at all. His piggish eyes gleamed. “I got another game you can beat me at.”
“Dad,” I said brightly, “this man wants to play a different game with me.”
Fatso heaved himself off the stool, his hands up in the surrender/I-didn’t-touch-her position, and backed into the crowd.
“You’re a dangerous girl,” The Guy said softly.
I made a gun with my fingers and blew imaginary smoke away.
My choice of prize was a weepy-eyed velvet pony. It was the look on its face—soulful, hopeful, earnest—that appealed to me. I crushed it to my chest, getting my smell all over it as we strolled aimlessly through the crowd. Mostly older, drunker people now. Two veiny guys yelling, inching into each other’s faces. A man chasing a woman who kept saying it was too late, he blew it.
“I’m thirsty,” The Guy said. “You want something?”
I shrugged, which apparently meant yes. He bought two plastic cups of beer.
“How old are you?” he said again as he watched me drink.
“When’s your birthday?” he said fast.
My reply was just as quick. “August seventeenth, nineteen ninety-two.” I’ve memorized dates for getting into clubs since the dawn of time. Last year I was born in 1991.
He relaxed, smiling, sipping. “Congratulations. You can do everything now but be the president.”
I thought about why he was so fixated on my age. What he was thinking of doing.
“Are you in college?” he said.
His eyebrows rose. I laughed.
“Kidding. I never went.”
We still hadn’t told each other our names. It was beginning to feel deliberate.
“You’re not from around here,” I said.
He gave me a funny look, half flattered, half perplexed. “Why do you say that?”
“For starters, stripping is a respectable profession in these parts. It’s gainful employment. Plus you don’t have an accent.”
“Neither do you.”
“Well, golly, Mr. Man,” I drawled, “you sure are right about that.”
He laughed. “So you hide it. You’ve reinvented yourself. A self-made woman.”
I think he’d been drinking earlier that night, like me. His eyes were glassy and a bit feverish.
“Maybe,” I said mysteriously, trying on the idea in my head. A self-made woman. I threw back the rest of my beer. The Guy stared at my throat, and I swanned for him as I swallowed. When my head came down my eyes were lazily half-closed, my mouth pouty. That fuck-me look I’ve used to great effect on other men.
The Guy averted his eyes. Took a drink. Scanned the crowd.
I felt stupid. I hugged the stuffed pony under my arm.
“Why are you here alone?” I said.
He touched my elbow and bent close. “You want to go somewhere quieter where we can actually talk?”
He didn’t let go of my elbow, and I thanked a whole pantheon of gods for that. It felt different now. His skin on my skin caused a chemical reaction. My cells were rioting.
We walked out of the carnival into the night sea of grass and stars.
I did a suave little twist of my arm until our hands joined. I pulled him through the darkness toward the picnic table, then let go and hopped up, hugging the pony between my knees. He stopped a foot away.
“You look incredible,” he breathed.
A rush of sweet blood to my head.
“So do you,” I said, my voice also gauzy.
He moved toward me. Cool platinum starlight played off his hair, the gold sheen on his arms. He wasn’t super tall, maybe five foot ten, but his frame was elegantly made, lithe muscle knitting around finely sculpted bones. That muscle rippled beneath his T-shirt and the jeans that molded to him. I pressed my palms to the splintered wood but I could still imagine them running down a hard thigh. I’m going to fuck you, I thought. Somewhere not far from here. Maybe the back of your car. The only question is how we’ll get there.
“Did you bring me out here to talk,” I said, “or for something else?”
He looked chagrined. He sat beside me on the table. The rides were shutting down, great mechanical dragons folding their wings, coiling up their segmented tails. I propped the stuffed pony behind my head and lay back, looking up at a perfect planetarium sky.
“You asked why I’m here alone.”
I glanced over at him. He stared straight ahead.
“I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy, but no one’s letting me in on the secret.”
There are moments, when you’re getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them, too. It feels like meeting a stranger you’ve known your whole life.
“Why’d you get on the roller coaster?” I said.
A little comma formed in the corner of his mouth, a half smile. “I’m starting a new job soon, and . . . I’m terrified, honestly. I thought that if I faced another lifelong fear, it’d give me confidence.”
“You didn’t seem scared.”
“You don’t remember me screaming.”
I grinned. “Au contraire. August twenty-first, twenty-thirteen. Never forget. But you seemed happy.”
It should have tipped him off that I didn’t talk about his job, I talked about feelings. I was too young to care about boring adult jobs. I was still testing out how my heart worked.
He was smiling at me now. I imagined him putting a knee between my legs, holding me down. The sky felt like a huge hot aquarium, swimming with tadpole stars.
“How about you?” he said. “Why tonight?”
“I’m starting a new job, too, actually.”
“What kind of job?”
High school senior.
“It’s sort of an unpaid internship. Anyway, I guess I wanted to do something the old me wouldn’t have done.”
“Would the old you have done this?”
I sat up slowly. My body was languid and light. We were very close, mostly by accident. His stubble glittered like gold dust. The ledge of his lips cast a shadow I couldn’t look away from. “What am I doing, exactly?”
I felt the heat of his hand before it touched me, and shivered. He laid it on my bare knee. Didn’t stroke, didn’t squeeze, just placed it there like a card he’d dealt, waiting for my move.
“This?” I said. My voice had lost all body again, becoming air contained in a thin envelope of words. I mirrored his movement, rested my hand on his jeans. The denim was smooth-worn and warm.
His other hand cupped my face. Somehow he’d gotten closer without quite kissing me yet. There was a carnival smell still on us, beer and popcorn and motor grease, but all of that faded into a kind of white noise, and now I smelled him. Something between suede and smoke. The clean tang of sweat mixed into his cologne, turning into a musky alcohol. Pure delirium. I couldn’t breathe any more of this. I couldn’t get enough of it.
My body was on autopilot. Mouth opening, face tilting, everything yielding. “What am I doing?” I whispered again, and knew he felt my breath in his own mouth.
“Seducing me,” he said.
My eyes opened all the way. My bones regained solidity. Blood pumped furiously into my throat, my temple, fleeing my hands and every part of me that had wanted to be touched by him. I pulled away.
His brow creased. If we’d known each other’s names, he would have said my name then with a question mark.
Was that what I was doing? Seducing him? Another throwaway fuck?
Was that all this was?
“Did I say something wrong?”
I shook my head. But I stood up anyway, grabbed the stuffed animal, mangled it in my hands.
Again, that pained pause on his face where he wanted to say the name of this girl who was clearly upset. Funny, how our own names soothe us. It’s okay, Maise. You are yourself. Whoever that is.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be sorry. I’m sorry.”
“I wasn’t trying to seduce you.”
The tension went out of him. It wasn’t his fault. It was just the crazy girl and her crazy girl-feelings.
Was that unfair? Maybe I wanted to be unfair.
“Hey,” he said. He came close, his hand hovering over my shoulder blade, waiting for clearance to land. “I didn’t mean it in a bad way. If you weren’t trying, it would’ve happened anyway. You are so beautiful.” The hand retreated. “I’ve upset you.”
“No, you haven’t.”
He rocked on his toes a few times, back and forth. I’d learn later that it was his nervous habit. It endeared me to him, a little—instead of retreating from anxiety, he psyched himself up to face it. “I don’t want the night to end like this. Can I take you home?”
He walked at my side, never ahead or behind. Our bodies aligned naturally. I never had to guess where he was going.
He drove a Chevy Monte Carlo built before I was born. It looked like something out of a Tarantino film. I don’t read too much into people’s vehicle choices. Mom drives a minivan, and she’s never taken me to soccer practice or gymnastics. Her van is her office. Only clients get to see the inside.
The front seat of his car was a solid piece of old leather. It smelled dizzyingly masculine. When he got in the seat dipped toward him, peeling away from my skin.
“Where do you live?”
I turned to him. I was breathing hard. He noticed and his hands came off the wheel, his body angling toward me.
We met halfway.
Before this goes any farther, I should tell you I’ve slept with older men before. Some much older than me. Like, times two and up on the multiplication table. One was almost times three.
Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with dick.
I don’t blame it entirely on him, though. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul, and all that jazz. Obviously I’m compensating for something, but I think even if I’d had a normal childhood, I’d have grown bored of boys my age. They’re like oversensitive car alarms. A brisk breeze is enough to set them off. I should know, since I lost my virginity to one in freshman year. I didn’t even realize it when he came—I thought he was still trying to get in.
Okay, I thought. Bad first pick. The next will be better.
The next one lasted twenty-four seconds. I counted. He said if I really wanted to feel something, we should try anal.
At some point you realize they’re still children, and it starts to feel weird and pervy.
So when a guy in his late twenties flirted with me at a gas station, I got into his car, and he fucked me on a bare mattress in a stuffy one-room apartment that smelled like ashes and beer. He made sure I came first, and he didn’t whine about wearing a condom. He called me gorgeous and bought me a burger before he dropped me home.
I could get used to this, I thought.
So I did.
It seemed like the kiss would be frantic, urgent, but when our lips actually met it was soft. Restrained softness. All the urgency went into our hands, perched on each other’s shoulder and neck like talons. My heart was ecstatic. He wanted this as much as I did and also wanted to not fuck it up, to not let it become a gross sloppy drunk screw. I kissed him slowly, indulgently, feeling the pillowed satin of his lips, the gritty scatter of stubble all around them. It took serious willpower to go slow. Beery bitterness in our mouths, but it just made everything sweeter—this was something we wanted no matter what imperfections tried to deter us.
His hand circled my skull, pulled me into him. I tilted my face further, my mouth at a right angle to his, opening for his tongue. God, when had I last been kissed like this? Had I ever? It felt like being fucked, but sweetly, more personally, somehow. Inside my veins my blood glowed the same neon red as those carnival lights. He pulled back, pulled gently at my lower lip. Opened his eyes and looked at me.
“I’m not trying to seduce you,” I said in an absurd gasp.
He smiled. Not the ultrabright public smile from earlier, but one just for me, small and sly, one corner of his mouth higher than the other.
It was pretty obvious who was seducing whom here.
Some part of my old self wrested control. She curled her hands in his shirt and yanked him toward her. She lowered her body to the long seat and hooked her legs around his, let his weight settle atop her. They kissed again, her and him, and this time it was urgent and frantic and all the things they’d been holding back. Teeth now, and nails. She felt him get hard, the thick ridge of it pressing through his jeans against her inner thigh. She felt our body, mine and hers, getting wet, the sweat between her breasts, on the back of my neck, between our legs. We grasped the zipper of his fly.
The Guy pushed himself up on his elbows, panting. “Wait.”
Then I was me again, hair sticking to my face, flushed. “What?”
He closed his eyes. I could tell breathing was a conscious effort on his part. He lowered his face, grazed my cheek with his sandpapered one. “I want you,” he whispered into my hair, and a million filaments of electricity raced across my scalp. “But I want to know you. I don’t just want a hookup.”
When he raised his head again, I felt that same weightless drop I’d felt when our hands first touched a hundred feet above the Earth.
He combed a hand through my hair, untangling it. “Is that too old-fashioned for you?” A self-deprecating smile. His forehead furrowed when he smiled like that.
“No,” I said.
“You are so beautiful. God, I just want to touch you.” He sighed, his chest moving against mine. Sodium light slanted through the windshield, painting the side of his face with warm lemon. “You know why I was happy up there? Because I completely forgot where I was. All I could think about was you.”
I couldn’t wait anymore.
I took his face in my hands and brought it back to me. We kissed with closed mouths, then tongues again, and he pressed me down, his knee between my legs, like I’d imagined him doing. I felt his kiss all the way through me. I felt it in every hollow place, filling me with summer heat, starlight, sweat, and abandon. When he broke away I said, low and steady, “We can do both. It doesn’t have to just be a hookup.”
His expression was pained, but he didn’t argue this time.
I raked my fingers through his sweat-damp hair. Wrapped my legs around his. His weight made my breath shallow. I felt the rotation of the Earth, our bodies pulled together by gravity. “I want to fuck you,” I said.
The pained look melted away.
I’d burned off my alcohol. The drunk feeling that surged in me now was self-generated. I didn’t even think of where we were parked, if anyone might walk by. I didn’t care. He kissed my throat, my collarbone, pulled the tight sticky tee off with more grace than I would have. His stubble tingled against my breasts. He opened my bra, pressed his hot mouth to my skin. Every string in me tightened and hummed. There was some jerky shifting as I tugged off his T-shirt and he took off my shorts, then our bodies rejoined, skin on skin. Every time an article of my clothing came off, he would spend a moment exploring the revealed area with hands and mouth, then he would kiss me again. Something was spiraling wildly inside of me, more and more out of control. My usual clinical approach to sex wouldn’t work here. He kept confusing it with these tender, adoring gestures. Just fuck me, I wanted to say. But I didn’t want him to just fuck me. I wanted this to keep going on forever, never running out of clothes or new places to be touched.
Finally his fingers slipped into the waistband of my underwear. I popped the button of his jeans, and he didn’t stop me this time. He didn’t stop me as I unzipped his fly, either. Or as I slid my hand around his dick. It’s almost surreal, the first time you feel it and realize this man is going to fuck you with it. It was thick and hard, entire degrees hotter than the rest of him. As I touched him his eyes closed, his eyebrows slanting upward, toward bliss. I love that. I love how absolutely helpless they get when you touch them. I pulled him out of his jeans, pressed my thighs around him. My underwear was still on.
He reached out for something. Flipped the glove box open, extracted a foil wrapper. Pressed it into my hand.
I love when they let me do this, too.
I tore it open, rolled it over him. There’s something so final about it that makes my insides turn to water. No going back. No more excuses. It’s going to happen.
He ran a hand through my hair again, his eyes almost sad. Tucked both thumbs into my underwear and pulled it down. I didn’t let him take it all the way off. Too cramped inside the car anyway. I wanted it to feel desperate, difficult, necessary.
“Fuck me,” I said. My voice shook.
He pressed himself against me, but not inside. We both grimaced. Then again, letting me feel the length of him. The condom was instantly slippery. I breathed through my teeth.
He clamped one hand to the side of my face and said, “Tell me your name.”
Oh, fuck. He was going to do this, make it real.
I bit my lip and rolled my hips against him.
His breath flooded over me. I felt each muscle in him flexing, his abs crunching against my belly, his thighs stretching inside of mine. He slipped his arms beneath my back, pulling me closer to him. That hard dick right up against me was making my brain explode.
“Fuck me,” I said again. No shake. A growl.
“Tell me your name.”
It wasn’t easy for him. I probably could’ve waited him out. He probably would’ve given in. But I said, impatiently, “Why?”
“I don’t want this to just be sex. I want to know who you are.”
Men have a thing I call sex logic. When they’re horny, which is most of the time, the rules of logic change. Instead of being an organized system of reasoning, logic becomes the shortest path to getting what they want. In my present situation, I also succumbed to sex logic. It’s not like he could find me with a first name, anyway. Even in a town this small. Even with a name this uncommon.
And maybe a part of me wanted to let him in. Really let him in.
“Maise,” I said, shaky again.
Something shifted in his face, a puzzle piece sliding into place.
“Hello, Maise,” he said.
“Hi. What’s yours?”
“Evan,” I said, “please stop talking and fuck me.”
He kissed me first, and held my lip between his teeth, sharply, when he did it. I cried out, not from pain but relief. I’d been aching for this, and it wasn’t until he was inside me that I realized it. He fucked me slowly, his eyes open, on my face. My fingers and toes curled and then sprang loose. The funny thing was that his kiss had felt like fucking me, and his fucking me felt like being kissed, everywhere, every bit of my body unbearably warm and buzzing. I had to turn away, close my eyes. Shut down some of my senses. I heard my own voice, the breaths I vocalized without meaning to, and I sounded so girlish and young that it excited me. I was getting off on myself. Crazy. Evan—oh god, he had a name now—lowered his mouth to my breasts, kissed them, sucked at a nipple as he thrust into me, and I felt like I was being turned inside out. Everything became a confusion of overlapping sensations. I hadn’t even realized I’d slipped my hands into the back pockets of his jeans, pulling him deeper into me. Fleetingly I was aware of my bare foot splayed against the cool window. The smack of my skin against leather. Eventually the outer world fell away and all that remained were pressure points. His hands cupping my ass, holding me still, making me feel all of him inside of me, filling me with hardness and heat. You start feeling crazy things when you’re close. All the inhibitions dissolve. I wanted him in every part of me, my mouth, my ass, between my breasts, every place that could be fucked. He went still inside of me and I could have screamed. When he started fucking me again he was so slow, so fucking slow I felt every inch of him, sinking in all the way to the hilt, pressing my clit, and my eyelids fluttered and I said, “I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come,” and he kept fucking me steadily and I let go, every coiled bit of tension shooting out of my nerves in an electric storm. He came with me, his whole body seizing up, monstrously strong for a heartbeat, his fingers digging into my ass and his dick a startling hardness inside me when I was already softening, melting. He pumped into me, softer and softer, his head falling, body going slack, until his weight hung there, poised on the fulcrums of his elbows.
Planets moved in their orbits. Dawn broke in the United Kingdom. A car door slammed like a typewriter key.
I looked up at his face. He was already looking at mine.
When was the last time the man who’d just fucked me wanted to see my face after he came?
Neither of us blinked or seemed to breathe. He was still inside me, soft now. I didn’t know what to do. They usually pulled out immediately, or I disengaged and started looking for my clothes. I couldn’t move, trapped under him.
He brushed my cheek with the back of his hand.
Oh god. Please don’t say something cheesy. Please don’t talk.
He leaned in and kissed me.
I could deal with this. I closed my eyes, kissed him back. An aimless, unhurried kiss, not wanting anything from him now. As he kissed me he pulled out, gentle. I made a little sighing sound. He tucked his dick into his fly, leaving the condom on. His eyes moved over my body but now, unlike earlier, they lingered on my face.
He was looking at me like he knew me. Not in the biblical sense—obviously we were past that—but in a you-are-more-than-a-quick-fuck sense.
I sat up, forcing myself to reach casually for my clothes. Underwear up. Bra on. I couldn’t get into my shorts without almost kicking him in the face, which made him laugh and grab my leg and rub his cheek against my calf. I tried not to let the prickle of his stubble send fireworks through my nervous system, but you try arguing with endorphins.
The car smelled like bleach and sweat, that magical sex musk that isn’t so magical after it’s all over.
How the hell was I going to get out?
The pony stared at us lugubriously from the dashboard. Jesus. Little fucker had watched the whole thing.
My spine crackled when he said it. I pretended to find something interesting in the side mirror. “Yeah?”
“Just trying it out.”
Would it be too rude to open the door right now?
Fingertips grazed my forearm, the fine peach fuzz there. “Are you okay?”
I turned to him. I guess that’s all he wanted—to say my name and get a response. He tilted his head, that otherworldliness shimmering in him. God, he was a beautiful man. And he was so nice to me. And I had to get out of his car before I choked.
“Hey,” I said with forced cheer, “I’ve got an idea.”
His eyebrows rose hopefully.
“I’m going to see if there’s anyone left to bribe at the Gravitron.” I made myself smirk. “You should get cleaned up. Meet me there?”
I’m a pretty good liar. Key skills: eye contact, confidence, not caring about the outcome.
But here was the problem. Somehow, in the two or three hours since I’d met him, Evan had gotten to know me well enough to see through the bullshit. Maybe he heard some undetectable crack in my voice, saw a furtive glint of desperation in my eyes. Because instead of joking or blushing or anything normal, he looked at me like I’d just said I never wanted to see him again.
Never mind that that was exactly what I was saying.
“Okay,” he said quietly.
Key skill: follow-through.
“Great,” I said, and leaned in to peck his cheek.
He grabbed my jaw, holding my face still. My heart thumped like a vampire kicking his way out of his coffin.
Evan just looked at me. He ran his thumb over my mouth, my cheek, as if he was memorizing them, knowing it was the last time he’d see them.
I didn’t have the heart to give him a fake kiss. I lowered my head and got out of the car.
My bike was chained to the cyclone fence behind the Tilt-a-Whirl. It was quiet inside save for a few drunk carnies messing around with the strongman hammer. I swung onto my seat, wincing at the sweet burn between my legs. God fucking dammit. I had to stand to pedal out of the tall grass and dirt, and of course every push reminded me of what I’d just done and how good it had felt and how bad I felt now.
Yeah, I hook up with older guys. And then I leave them, before they can leave me.
Thanks for the abandonment issues, Dad. Fuck you very much.
When I reached the blacktop my eyes were blurry. It was just the wind. Really, it was.
Meet the Author
Leah Raeder is the author of Unteachable, Black Iris, and the forthcoming Cam Girl. Aside from reading her brains out, she enjoys graphic design, video games, fine whiskey, and the art of self-deprecation. She lives with her very own manic pixie dream boy in Chicago. Visit her at LeahRaeder.com.
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I was hooked by the time I finished the first page. The characters are so well developed you feel like you know them. The character of Maise is written with such fresh humor and vulnerability, you can't help but love her. Then there's Evan, and I seriously just want to wrap him up and take care of him forever. Together the two have an electric story that unfolds beautifully. This is an amazing love story that readers should feel honored to experience. I'll gladly start the petition for Leah Raeder to write book 2 so we can all spend more time with Maise & Evan!
I read this one again immediately after I finished it. One of my favorites of the year.
I bought “Unteachable” by Leah Raeder on a whim, and I am so glad I did. Teacher-student relationships are usually more squicky than sexy for me, and I’m not sure whether the technical legality of this romance made the decision to pick up the book easier or not. Now that I’ve finished reading, I’m not so sure it matters. Maise O’Malley is a restless eighteen-year-old, eager to finish her senior year and go to film school somewhere as far from her small hometown as she can get. She meets Evan during one intense night at the carnival, fleeing after she realizes that she’s falling for him much too fast. Avoiding their connection proves impossible when Mr. Evan Wilke is waiting to teach Maise’s film studies class on her last first day of school. As much as I loved the deeply dysfunctional relationship between Maise and Evan–not to mention their crazy chemistry–I wouldn’t have cared half as much about their story if the other people getting tangled up in it weren’t just as interesting. The contrast between Maise’s desire to belong to her friend Wesley’s eccentric family, and the mother she’s really stuck with, added depth to her bold personality and her longing to escape. Raeder’s writing is beautiful–walking the fine line between lyrically vivid and bluntly coarse with natural ease. I’ve read and re-read some sections over and over again since finishing the book the first time, and I keep finding passages that wow me. The prose here makes me almost green with envy. I love it. One of the things that impressed me about “Unteachable” was the whole host of other character issues orbiting the forbidden romance at the center of the story. Maise fights a constant battle–both in her relationship with Evan and her life outside him–between acting like a mature adult and being seen as one. Her handling of her problems veers between childlike and grown-up depending upon how she feels around Evan. It seemed realistic to me that she would be so influenced by her first real relationship, and watching her stand on her own with or without him was super rewarding. This novel earns an easy five stars and it deserves every one of them. “Unteachable” is being released by a publisher next year, with a brand new cover to boot. If you haven’t bought it by now, I suggest you do after its second release. You won’t regret it.
To me, this novel was very special. It deals with the taboo subject of a student-teacher relationship that society says is completely wrong, regardless of circumstances. But can there be times that circumstances truly do make this type of relationship acceptable? Can the student's life experiences have prepared them, matured them, and made them able to take part in this type of relationship in a healthy way? These are the issues explored in this story, and the author handled this tough topic beautifully. I found this story to be amazing. It was raw and real, and I loved the simple honesty of it. The characters were wonderful, especially Maise. She has to be one of my favorite heroines to date. She is so tough, as she has lived through tragedies and has basically raised herself. She takes care of herself and is basically the adult in her family. She never got to be a kid. I love how she let her tragedies shape her into such a strong woman, and how she works through. She's such a self-aware heroine... she knows she has abandonment issues, she knows that she runs from true connection. Watching her work through these things, and watching how Mr. Wilke's love draws her out of her fears, was such an amazing thing to watch. I had to love him too. This is such a good guy, you just couldn't help but like him too. Luckily, this was a stand-alone novel, so the reader gets to have resolution immediately, rather than it being stretched across several books. This was refreshing. The writing in this story was real and poignant, and I found myself utterly engrossed until the very end. I won't say how it ends, but I will say that I was deeply satisfied after the last page. This was a really great find. Loved it.
So I have to admit I attempted to read this book last September. I was so intrigued by the premise, indulging in forbidden love stories from time to time, that I had to at least try it. At that time though, I just wasn’t feeling the story. I ended up marking it as DNF around 40%. Then a few weeks ago I got an urge to give it a try again. With Leah’s newest book, Black Iris, flaunting it’s gorgeousness around the blogosphere, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed this story more, had it been at a different time in my life. So I went ahead and put the audiobook back on my phone and started it over again from the beginning. And I’m very pleased to say that this time around I completed the entire book AND overall, really enjoyed it. “That is all life is. Breathing in, breathing out. The space between two breaths.” Unteachable is definitely not the type of story I would normally read, but it is one that caught my attention. I’ve seen other books with the same type of premise, that being a student dating a teacher, but those books honestly didn’t have the same draw that this one did, at least not in my opinion. “I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy, but no one’s letting me in on the secret.” Maise definitely has her share of issues. This poor girl’s head is all kinds of messed up and jumbled from the things that have happened to her in the past. She has very little respect for herself and her body, as well as accompanying “daddy issues”, as others refer to it. Maise meets Evan at a carnival. An older man, who she’s continually attracted to, and one that instantly feels a connection with her. Wouldn’t you know the first day of class, this older man from the carnival is her teacher! Yes, a little too much of a coincidence for my silly brain, but I just rolled with it. ;) “There are moments, when you’re getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them, too. It feels like meeting a stranger you’ve known your whole life.” Maise and Evan continue on with their relationship, all in confidence. Of course Evan would be fired if their affair was ever brought to the light of day. And having to keep it hidden is half of the fun for Maise. Little does she know Evan has his own issues, his own secrets from his past, and his own less-than-perfect life. As you can imagine, this book is filled with DRAMA! I actually enjoy a good dose of drama in my stories, so this one worked well for me. It was a little bit on the long side at times, or at least it felt that way. I could have done without a few chapters here and there. But overall, I did find myself really enjoying it, wondering how things would play out and what would happen next. I have to also mention Leah’s gorgeous writing. “Who fixes broken people? Is it only other broken people, ones who’ve already been ruined? And do we need to be fixed? It was the messiness and hurt in our pasts that drove us, and that same hurt connected us at a subdermal level, the kind of scars written so deeply in your cells that you can’t even see them anymore, only recognize them in someone else.” It’s undeniable. The way this story was written was so beautiful. Just check out those quotes! (Which is part of why the wait for Black Iris is basically complete TORTORE for me!!) When you connect with an author like this, really enjoying their style and writing techniques, it’s hard not to want to read everything they write. I only have a short list of authors that blow me away with their words, but Leah is definitely creeping her way to that list. (Jump aboard, Leah!) I’m so happy I decided to give this book another go. No, it didn’t blow me away, but it definitely kept my attention this second time around. I was really interested in how this story was going to conclude. Overall, I did end up liking the ending, which I wasn’t sure I was going to. Well done, Leah! Now bring on Black Iris! I’m ready!! (Thanks to Atria Books for the review copy!)
The writing was impeccable. The plot was near perfection and would have achieved perfection if there was just a little more to the end. There was enough about each character that it felt like I knew them. I fell in love with them. This book was way more than I expected when I picked it up and I am so glad I did. One day was all it took to fall in love with this authors style. I definitely recommend this book.
It reminds me of pretty little liars a little. I had to read the last part a few times before it clicked. Overall it was amazing it tended to switch between maise's point of few to someone writing a movie. It tied together very well
I was disappointed at times, bored at other. I guess i just expected something different
It's been awhile since a book left me feeling as conflicted as Unteachable did. It's actually difficult for me to put my thoughts about this one into words, so bear with me. I'm going to do my best. I don't mind books about forbidden or taboo love. I actually rather enjoy them. I like pushing myself out of my comfort zone and enjoy the opportunity to embrace another perspective and find that helps my when reading fictional accounts of taboo topics. This isn't my first student-teacher relationship book and I really don't imagine it will be my last. As long as everything is consensual – which it was – I don't have as much of a problem with this as others might have. While this book was set in high school, Maisie was 18, so that alleviated a lot of the potential "ick factor" for me. The other thing that helped is that Maisie pursued Evan every bit as hard as he did her. She had a history with older men. He had a history with younger women. I didn't find Evan's actions predatory in this book. Maisie was neither taken advantage of nor a victim. Yes, there were a couple cringe-worthy scenes where it became apparent just how much he enjoyed the fact that he was her teacher, but that's just part of who he is. Who they are together. They were both damaged and screwed up. My only real issue with this book was that it's important to me that I like or relate to the characters in some way and I didn't find either Maisie or Evan particularly likable. Her daddy issues and general behavior made it hard to like her, though by the end of the book, I came to appreciate her character. She was stronger and more mature and driven than I originally thought. She proved me wrong. Evan might have been hot, but I just never clicked with him. Despite his past, I don't think he's a bad guy, necessarily. It was apparent he cared for Maisie and did have her best interests at heart, but I just couldn't bring myself to like his character. Their relationship was an addiction of sorts, but I do feel there were real emotions involved, too. Even though I didn't love the characters, I was entirely wrapped up in their story. I read it in one sitting without a break. I loved Leah's writing style. During the times I was frustrated with the characters and their actions, it was her fresh voice that kept me going. I found Unteachable a raw and real coming of age story. Love isn't always pretty and it's often not easy. But when it's real, it's right. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Wowza! That was one hell of a read. I mean this in the best way possible: UNTEACHABLE is not for the faint of heart. I don’t think there’s really one genre that it fits into. It felt a lot more erotica than New Adult due to the sheer number of love scenes. Not that I’m complaining. But… I have to admit it was slightly overwhelming at times. That being said, this book was fascinating and incredibly well written. A lot of people have approached the teacher-student relationship and it’s felt contrived or forced. Not for one second did I not want these two to find a way to be together. I was totally into every bit of this story. I particularly appreciated Leah Raeder’s nods to film tropes and styles. She paints a vivid picture–in the best way possible. If you’re looking for something to get the pulses racing, but still make you feel like a giddy teenager falling in love for all the wrong reasons… Get into it! The ending was perfect, by the way. Again it could’ve been an eye-roller. But it was like the perfect little button. I may have swooned a bit…
This book, like it's cover is bold. Teacher/student romances can be hit or miss with me. One thing's for sure with this one...I was glued to the story. I kept reading because I had to know how it was going to end. What worked for me: ~The sexual tension and passion these characters had was incredible and sometimes felt nearly tangible. ~I felt that I was meant to feel conflicted by how I felt about them as a couple, and that was achieved. I wanted to see them happy, but I also felt that some big boundaries were being crossed. Yes, there are consequences, but not in the way I had anticipated. Many blurred lines for sure. ~I appreciated the darker edge to the story. Understanding what drew these two people together was interesting to discover. ~The characters came alive to me as if I was watching a movie, which is fitting to the story, but it's more than that. It was colorful, vivid, and...captivating. ~Maise's character growth was the most significant to me. At first, I was concerned she was the kind of character that was 'stuck', but her will to change and have a better life won. As you can see, her decision making skills are sometimes skewed, but in the end, Maise does what's best for her. I admired her strength and tenacity. What didn't work for me: ~I kept hoping to really fall in love with Evan, but I just didn't quite get there. I think my biggest struggle with him was his age. He's not much younger than me, and look...I know it happens, but I just have a tough time believing a man close to my age would pursue a real relationship with an 18 year old. Granted, Maise is not your typically teen, so I bought that. It still messed with my mind at the end a bit. ~Again with Evan, he's got a pretty big secret that I wished was dug into a bit more. I think it should have caused more alarm or concern with Maise. Despite her seemingly careless behavior, she is rather intuitive and I would think she would have been more concerned about that particular situation. ~There were consequences for everyone involved, but I felt like it was all resolved a bit too quickly and easily. I think I just kept expecting something a bit more. Overall, Unteachable was really rather enjoyable. I didn't and couldn't put it down. Raeder seems to tackle topics that are provocative and I can't wait to see what she has up next! Quotes: ~"I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy, but no one's letting me in on the secret." ~"I can't hold on to you. You're like a shooting star. Just a trail of fire in my hands." ~I thought about the man with the guitar. A nobody on a street corner, but better than a million somebodies on TV. He didn't care---he did it for love. Love was what made it good and beautiful and ephemeral. And I thought about the man I was waiting for, the way my eyes had been gradually opening, sincerity replacing sarcasm, the way I felt I was constantly waking up and yet slipping deeper into a beautiful dream.
Wonderful Book!! 4 Stars Unteachable by Leah Raeder is a not just a story about a student/teacher relationship. It also focuses on some very difficult issues such as drug abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. This book took me on a very emotional roller-coaster. Maise O'Malley is an 18 year old high school student who has pretty much taken care of herself her entire life. She grew up with a drug addicted mother and a non-existent father. Although she is not a drug addict like her mother she has her own addiction which is sleeping with older men. She never sticks with them for very long though, usually just long enough to dull the pain of never being loved by her own father. "Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with d*ck." At the end of the summer before her senior year Maise goes to the community fair and there she meets an older man on the roller-coaster. Things heat up very quickly between these two strangers and in true Maise style she leaves the situation as quickly as she can. The separation doesn't last long as Maise soon finds out that the stranger is her film class teacher. Evan Wilkes can't believe his eyes when the girl that took off on him at the fair is one his students. He tries to ignore Masie but the attraction between them is so strong that he finds it almost impossible. They both fear that Evan could lose his job if they continue their affair but find it difficult to deny the feeling that have for each other. "There are moments, when you're getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them, too. It feels like meeting a stranger you've known your whole life." Maise's friend Wesley is also in love with her and she struggles with keeping her relationship with Evan a secret from him. She loves the time she spends with Wesley and his mom and doesn't want to ruin their friendship by telling him about Evan. Wesley is a smart guy though and knows that Maise is hiding something from him. When the truth comes out with she choose to stay with Evan or decide that her friendship with Wesley is more important to her? I really enjoyed Ms. Raeder's writing style and the depth this story had. I loved the connection between all the characters. They all played such an important role in this story. The one thing I didn't like was how abruptly the story ended. I was hoping for a look into the future of these characters lives. I definitely look forward to reading more from Ms. Raeder.
With out a doubt one of the best books I have read. I am heart broken it's over and I WANT MORE!!
This subject is taboo yet I was still drawn to this book like a bee to honey, I just could not get enough of it. Maise and Mr. Wilke a.k.a Evan just couldn’t get enough of each other either and that was before she realized he was her teacher. This attraction acted like a hot poker in a fire, it just kept getting hotter the more it sat. The age span between the two of them sparks the fire and their attractiveness for each other fuels the flame. Away from each other, they just cannot stop thinking of each other and when she sees him at the front of her classroom, she’s speechless. I had mixed feelings at this point as they are both clueless about their titles in this dance that they were orchestrating. She lied to him about who she was so he had no idea she would be sitting there in his classroom and she didn’t know he was a high school teacher, but what are the chances they would meet like this. It gets messy with friends, her mother trying to be a mother, teacher crushes, and lies that just keep stacking upon one another. I can’t stop thinking where I stand in this whole mess, she is 18 and to me, she is an adult plus there are other issues that led me to believe that Maise wasn’t being manipulative with Evan. I think what bothers me when I see this on the news is when other people get hurt in the process. When these issues happen in the news, husbands, children and parents are the ones who get hurt in the process too. If the issue goes sour, the parties end up getting hurt but these innocent victims get pulled into the mess or the parents get involved. Some parties do it for glamour too and as I was reading, all of this was going through my mind. The age difference is huge and Maise and Evan both know it but they are having a good time and I’m watching for something to happen, my eyes are peeled but what they have for the moment is what they need. The sneaking around, the secrecy is just another element to their taboo romance. The sex is breathtaking and it’s another education for both of them. Sometimes the language is raw and intense cutting right to the chase, pure adrenaline one minute and a few lines later tender and sensual. Stripping them both down until their souls were exposed, creating a desire and franticness as they devoured each other, the room getting smaller and smaller until their bodies connect and the room disappears. They were so right, so on but life get complicated and lies somehow just never work out. The ending, it was fantastic. Mature subject matter and language makes this book for mature readers only. I received this book from NetGalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest opinion.
If you're looking for a book that follows the normal "recipe" that a lot of books in this genre follow, then you probably won't like this book. If you're looking for a book that tells a coming of age story in a unique and unforgettable way, then this is the book you should get! I'm not going to go into specifics about this book. Obviously it's about a student-teacher relationship, but there's so much more to it than that. To me, this book tells Maise's coming of age story. Leah writing style is unique and beautiful. The way she describes scenes and emotions are unforgettable. For me, the way she described things helped me "see" the book like I might see a movie. It also helped me see the beauty in things that may not typically be seen as beautiful. Her writing helped me fully experience the emotions of the story. I think some readers may not like Leah's use of descriptions because it is so different from most of the other books on the market. But, I was in a book rut and was looking for something different. Leah's writing had me hooked by the 2nd paragraph of the first chapter and I couldn't wait to see how the story would progress and eventually end. As for the characters.... Maise begins her story by saying that she's mature for her age. But as the story progresses, Maise (and the reader) realize she's not as mature as she originally thought she was. However, by the end of the book, she has matured. Initially, Evan is portrayed as mature and a "grown-up." But once Maise finds out how old he is and more about his life, she (and the reader) realize he isn't as mature as she initially thought he was. Maise and Evan are not perfect, they're flawed. They've done things in their past that has an effect on their present. They both make mistakes. They are both dishonest with each other about certain things. Theirs is not a perfect love story. Overall, I have no complaints about the story. I loved it! There is a small part of me that wished Leah had included an epilogue, just to let me know what had happened with Maise and Evan a few years into the future. But I get why Leah didn't do that! The way she ends the book fits with the way the book is as a whole and the role that movies play in the story (Maise wants to go to film school when she graduates HS, Evan is her Film Studies teacher). Unteachable ends like many movies that I've seen have ended and Leah did it superbly. *Some of my favorite quotes from Unteachable are: ~"And that made my heart ache, too-the thought of how much happiness lay scattered across the universe, unrealized, in fragments, waiting for the right twist of fate to bring it together." ~"Out of everything I ever learned from Evan Wilke, I think that lesson was the most important: that none of us actually grow up. We get bigger, and older, but part of us always retains that small rabbit heart, trembling furiously, secretively, with wonder and fear. There's no irony in it. No semantics or subtext. Only red blood and green grass and silver stars." ~"You should love something while you have it, love it fully and without reservation, even if you know you'll lose it someday. We lose everything. If you're trying to avoid loss, there's no point in taking another breath, or letting your heart beat one more time. It all ends. That's all life is. Breathing in, breathing out. The space between two breaths." ~"Evan isn't my knight in shining armor with perfect timing and a stainless steel past and I'm not some damsel in distress who needs saving, anyway. We're just two messed-up people who don't get their happy ending. Happy endings are for movies, and fairy tales."
Honestly, this book just completely blew me away. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Wow. This was a whole lot going on here. When I learned the general theme, I was worried it might get a little creepy. But you know I really enjoyed the book. First and foremost I felt that this story could be a real reality and probably is, just from Maise's home life. And my heart breaks when children are forced to be the adult in their own life, missing out on being a child. I felt bad for him when he realized the reality of the situation, because in a way, I felt he was set up for what he got. I think that in general circumstance I would not be pro Evan & Maise. But as I read on, page by page, I started to think these two people in this circumstances worked. I think if she had been 15, I would not have the same view. But when you are 18, you get to make any choices you would like, and with her being so close and due to the circumstances that unfold through out the book.
I was at first a little ambivalent about reading this story -- teacher and student. Once I got into the story, I was pleasant surprised by the maturity of the characters, the story line, and the obstacles that were overcome for the heroine and hero to obtain their HEA. I would hope that there will be a follow-up novella so that the reader can see further into these character's lives.
Maise is eighteen years old and she's a mess. Her mother's a junkie and dealer and her dad is a dead beat dad. She's use to using older men. She seduces them, use them and discards them. What Maise doesn't see is that these men are using her as well. She's been having flings with older men since she was young but she doesn't see it as them using her. She meets Evan at a summer fair and has a thing with him to realize later on that he's her teacher. They go around seeing each other and hiding their affair so no one gets hurt. Maise meets Wesley and becomes friends with him. She's his only friend. He goes around filming people without them knowing it. I read a lot of reviews where people had a problem with Evan and Maise's relationship. But no one seem to have a problem with Maise's mom. Her mother's a junkie who has put her in harms way by bringing different men into the house since she was young. The person who is suppose to take care of her and protect her is never there for her. She even introduces Maise to a dealer. Maise doesn't know if her mom is pimping her to this man or if he'll put a hit on her because her mother owes him money. I had more of a problem with her mother than with Evan. Maise and Evan aren't the same age but when they're together age doesn't matter. I enjoyed the journey Evan and Maise took me on. I didn't know what expect at the end. I couldn't believe Maise got into the things she did. Even if she did it by being very smart and thinking every step through. She and Evan do get careless as they're feelings grow for each other. But it shows how the relationship starts to change and grow. I say if you're going to read this book, do it with an open mind. Maise is eighteen and her age shows in her confusion and her actions at times. This book isn't about authority but about two people who are very similar even with their age difference and that's what draws them together. They are two souls who recognize each other because of what their families put them through. I would highly recommend this book to anyone over eighteen.
Unputdownable & Unforgettable “There's something so terrible about wanting something you've already had. You know exactly what you're missing. Your body knows precisely how to shape itself around the ache, the hollowness that wants to be filled.” – Which one of us doesn’t understand this feeling? It is bittersweet to know the loss of that which once was and is no longer. A lover’s kiss, a caress on the cheek from that man you’ve been wanting or even that sexy late night call when you’re not expecting it. “I turned my head, watching the slim, sinuous lines of my body joining to his, the rolling curve of my spine, my hair slithering and lashing like some strange spidery creature. He felt so thick inside me, so excessive. Pushing me to the limits of my skin. To the edge where my body met the world, where reality blurred with internal fiction, and I wasn’t sure who I was anymore aside from hollowness and fullness, ache and relief, repeating over and over.” – I adore this paragraph. It is lyrical, it is raw, it is beautiful. Maise O’Malley and Evan Wilke meet one magical night at a carnival. She is young, reckless, an unstoppable force of nature. One look at Evan Wilke and she knows that before the night is over she will “have” him in the biblical sense of the word. Evan is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. There is a sadness in his eyes. The lights from the carnival called to him – much the same way this beautiful creature does. He can see that she’s very young. Most guys would just take the roll in hay and move on but not Evan. He wants more than a quickie in the front seat of his car. Do you think it’s possible for two people to unknowingly recognize the brokenness in each other? I do. These two have a sexual encounter in Evan’s car that night and we would think they never meet again. At least that was Maise’s plan. Well, then you’d be wrong. Maise walks into her new class and to her dismay (and delight) realizes that her gorgeous new teacher is her one night stand. Neither one has been able to stop thinking about the other. Now how to get around the small problem that he is her teacher? Even in this day and age the student/teacher romance is taboo. However in the hands of Leah Raeder it becomes something oh so right! Maise is determined to LIVE. She will not be taken down by the drug addict textbook tragedy that is her mother, Yvette. Evan has skeletons in the closet which include an alcoholic mother whose irresponsibility cost her everything. Throwing in the usual high school stuff like the best friend that is really in love with you and the requisite mean girl is like a cherry on the sundae – it just rounds everything out. Unteachable is, of course, sexy. It is also VIVID in its intensity, smart, romantic, funny, heartbreaking and angsty. The undercurrent always is this should not be but darn I must turn the page and see what happens next. The illicit and forbidden excitement of kissing, touching & feeling each other in Evan’s classroom where they could get caught at any moment is just delicious. Their need is palpable. Truth is that this relationship, it becomes so much more than sex and secrets. The love jumped off the page for me and hit me right between the eyes. You want these two people to end up together with a big fat happily ever after. Is Unteachable perfect? No! There were times when I wanted to smack one or the other. Times when I thought no way that would happen. However, as I read the last word my thoughts were WOW that was satisfying. I almost wanted to light a cigarette. :-) Wish I could delete it from my memory so that I could experience it all over again like it was my first time. That ladies and gentlemen, for me, is the mark of a great read. Leah Raeder I’m all over whatever you right next.