This book wowed me on so many levels. I’d heard of Leah Raeder before and had begun one of her other books, but really didn’t like the subject matter (a cam girl), so set it down. I decided to give her a second chance when I saw the reviews that were gushing about her prose. I’m so glad that I did because it wasn’t just one of the best books I’ve read this year, but it’s influenced me hugely in my writing in the best possible way. Half of my kindle copy is highlighted; there were so many descriptions I didn’t want to forget.
At the beginning of the book eighteen-year-old, Maise O’Malley is at a carnival and meets Evan. They end up hooking-up in his car and sleep together. Maise isn’t one for commitment so quickly makes her escape, but doesn’t stop thinking about him. Then she sees him again, but this time in the role of her teacher tutoring a film-studies class she’s signed up for.They try and resist each other but the sexual tension is palpable and soon they begin an affair.
From the very start I knew that this book was something different. The prose was intoxicating; a literal drunkenness of the senses came over me when I read the descriptions of the smells, sights and sounds. This author is the queen of metaphor, most of them conveying just the right atmosphere.
None of this fantastic writing did anything to diminish the plot, by the way. I had thought that a student-teacher love affair might come off a bit sleazy, but it didn't. It was handled delicately, just like the prose and the secondary plots complemented it well. I thought the relationship Maise had with her mother was authentically delivered, as was her relationship with Wesley. Each sub-plot bolstered up the main plot and tied in with it masterfully.
The characters were fantastic. Maise was everything that you want in a protagonist, strong, feisty and brimming with emotion.
Oh and let's not forget the sex. I think the author caught just the right balance. There wasn’t too much or too little. It was hot as hell, too. Usually I find sex scenes cringe-worthy, but not here.
There were two reasons why I didn’t give this the full five stars. The first is that while the writing was fantastic, the descriptions vivid and the metaphor masterful, sometimes it was so good that it ripped me away from the experience. Sometimes I would pause because a line was so good and while that's a truly great experience, it does mean I found it hard to re-immerse myself.
Secondly, while the similes and metaphors were perfect for the most part, some of them didn’t correlate to Maise. By that I mean that quite a few of them were science related and this would only have made sense if she was a chemistry student or something.
This book shows how great new-adult can be and is the best one from this genre I’ve ever read. If you're even mildly curious, read it.