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Consent Hardcover – November 10, 2015

3.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Between all of the lies she tells at school about her nonexistent piano teacher and her supposedly okay home life, Beatrice Kim has a lot of secrets even before starting her senior year at Andrew Jackson High School. Then Bea meets her music history teacher. Mr. Rossi is young and good-looking and completely believes in Bea's potential as a professional pianist—something Bea hasn't ever allowed herself to consider. When their shared passion for music turns into something else, Bea and Rossi begin a sexual relationship that could ruin them both. Bea thinks she knows what she is doing and what she wants. She thinks Rossi understands her and loves her. But with the threat of discovery looming, she will have to confront uncomfortable truths about herself and her relationship. This work, reminiscent of Sara Zarr's The Lucy Variations (Little, Brown, 2013), explores how Bea lost her love for the piano and how she can reclaim it. It also is an often uncomfortable examination of a relationship that never should have happened. Despite the problems Bea hints at in her home life and the lies she tells, everything comes very easily to her. She is at the top of her class despite having no real interest in college. She is a piano prodigy with perfect pitch, although she has never had formal lessons. She is conveniently at a recently rebranded "Campus for Baccalaureate and Performing Arts," despite having a nearly pathological desire to avoid the piano at the beginning of the novel. Readers who can get past these contrivances will be rewarded with a layered and thoughtful contemporary novel. The push and pull between what is perceived and what is true throughout the narrative adds another dimension to the unreliable first-person narration as readers and Bea contemplate Rossi's agenda. VERDICT Despite some heavy-handed moments, Ohlin delivers an open-ended novel ripe for discussion as readers follow the plot's twists and turns.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

Review

When Dane Rossi, ayoung English pianist substitute-teaching Bea's music-appreciation class, hearsBea play, he insists she could have a career as a concert pianist and urges herto apply to his alma mater, Juilliard, even as their intense, mutual attractioncomplicates her choices. Bea's mother went to Juilliard and also dreamed ofbecoming a concert pianist, but she died giving birth to Bea, who's sure herfather and older brother hold her responsible. Entirely self-taught, Bea's kepther dreams secret. Now, blossoming under Dane's guidance, she accepts his offerto introduce her to his Juilliard mentor, a great pianist. But when herrelationship with Dane takes a turn toward intimacy on their trip to New York,she's both confused and thrilled. The story's strongest when it focuses on thisrelationship, honoring its complexity and neither oversimplifying it nordemonizing either of them. While that's deftly handled, other plot pointsstrain credulity. Readers will have difficulty buying Bea's near perfection asa classical pianist given that her only instruction has been "from booksand online and stuff." After all, a crucial element of classical musicaltraining is feedback from teachers on student performance. While Bea's familyis underdeveloped, her deep guilt at having been born seems more than a tadoverblown. A compassionate but clearsighted look at student-teacher liaisons,somewhat diminished by an over-the-top plot setup. (Kirkus Reviews September 1, 2015)

Gr 9 Up–Between all of the lies she tells at school about her nonexistent piano teacher and her supposedly okay home life, Beatrice Kim has a lot of secrets even before starting her senior year at Andrew Jackson High School. Then Bea meets her music history teacher. Mr. Rossi is young and good-looking and completely believes in Bea’s potential as a professional pianist—something Bea hasn’t ever allowed herself to consider. When their shared passion for music turns into something else, Bea and Rossi begin a sexual relationship that could ruin them both. Bea thinks she knows what she is doing and what she wants. She thinks Rossi understands her and loves her. But with the threat of discovery looming, she will have to confront uncomfortable truths about herself and her relationship.This work, reminiscent of Sara Zarr’s The Lucy Variations (Little,Brown, 2013), explores how Bea lost her love for the piano and how she can reclaim it. It also is an often uncomfortable examination of a relationship that never should have happened. Despite the problems Bea hints at in her home life and the lies she tells, everything comes very easily to her. She is at the top of her class despite having no real interest in college. She is a piano prodigy with perfect pitch, although she has never had formal lessons. She is conveniently at a recently rebranded “Campus for Baccalaureate and Performing Arts,” despite having a nearly pathological desire to avoid the piano at the beginning of the novel. Readers who can get past these contrivances will be rewarded with a layered and thoughtful contemporary novel. The push and pull between what is perceived and what is true throughout the narrative adds another dimension to the unreliable first-person narration as readers and Bea contemplate Rossi’s agenda. VERDICT Despite some heavy-handed moments, Ohlin delivers an open-ended novel ripe for discussion as readers follow the plot’s twists and turns. (School Library Journal September 2015)

An insecure piano prodigy falls for her dashing music teacher in Ohlin’s contemporary novel. Seventeen-year-old Bea is used to pretending. She pretends her workaholic father cares about her. She pretends enthusiasm for her best friend Plum’s plan for them to attend Harvard together. She pretends her piano playing is just a hobby, and she’s already labeled her dream of attending a conservatory as unattainable. Dane Rossi, her handsome new music teacher, changes all that. Having attended Juilliard and toured Europe as a pianist, Dane recognizes Bea’s talent and encourages her to develop it. Bea blossoms under his tutelage; it seems inevitable that she’ll fall in love, as “accidental” touches progress into passionate kisses and, eventually, sex. Seen from Bea’s naive viewpoint, the book reads almost like a romance, but readers will wonder about Dane’s past long before Bea does, giving the story an uncomfortable edge. Bea learns about “age of consent” the hard way yet gains self-confidence by the story’s end. A morally complex novel good for discussions with older students. (Booklist November 1, 2015)

“Consent is as delicate, as profound and as subtle as the music that gifted young pianist Beatrice plays in moments of near-mystical inspiration. Nancy Ohlin tackles a very delicate subject with so much wisdom, so much clear-eyed honesty, and such a deft touch that I was blown away. A quick read you can’t put down.” (Michael Grant, bestselling author of GONE)

Beais a piano prodigy with dark secrets hidden behind a façade of normalcy, and as she enters her senior year she begins to feel isolated by her lies. When her dashing music history teacher encourages her talent, it is almost inevitable that she will fall in love with him. He falls for her, too, and they develop a relationship that skitters around the edges of appropriateness. With college application deadlines looming, he encourages her to play for Julliard. Buoyed by his affection, she agrees, and they go to New York for a weekend. There, they consummate their affair and plan a future together. Upon their return home,they try to avoid each other until after Bea’s eighteenth birthday, but ultimately succumb to their desires and have a tryst in a school music room. They are observed and reported by Bea’s jealous ex, and it is uncovered that Mr. Rossi has had affairs with students at previous teaching engagements.

Consent gives teens a safe space to explore their feelings about difficult issues without moralizing or underestimating their capacity for complexity. High school students will be simultaneously swept off their feet and horrified by the romance taking shape. The arbitrary nature of state consent laws is examined, as are the emotional ramifications of having an affair with someone who is abusing their authority. This book will appeal to teens who enjoy dark realism and romance. The inclusion of music history anecdotes and multi-cultural characters adds welcome layers of depth.—Liz Sundermann. (VOYA December 2015)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (November 10, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442464909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442464902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vox Libris TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 20, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
When you're seventeen, everything around you feels amplified, as if you are trapped in a world of hyperbole. Your parents are either the WORST or the GREATEST. Your best friend is the BEST, and your first love is the ONLY TRUE LOVE to ever exist.

Such is, to a considerable extent, the world of Bea. Her father is remote - to an extreme. Her brother is troubled - to an extreme. Her BFF Plum is Type A - to an extreme. And Bea is overwhelmed - to an extreme.

For one thing, Bea isn't so sure that she wants the life that seems prescribed for her. Plum has decided that the two will go to Harvard (which seems, at the risk of insulting Plum and Bea, a huge stretch because neither of them appears to be what you'd call Harvard Material). Bea's father has made it clear that music, Bea's one passion, is verboten in the home because Bea's mother, who died shortly after Bea's birth, was a trained pianist, and music is nothing more than a painful reminder of what he lost.

Loss permeates Bea's life. There is the mother she only knows through sparse snippets, and the father who hides away at work rather than parent his daughter. Bea's brother is lost to her, as well. Away at college, he pops in sporadically, numbing himself with drugs and alcohol the same way her father numbs himself with work. There is the potential loss of Plum, who is busy making Harvard plans that Bea has no true intention of fulfilling. Then there is the loss Bea feels most harshly: her talent at the piano. She can't take lessons, and she can't play at home. She feels drawn to the instrument and desperately wants to play, but she can't, lest she incite her father's wrath. Bea herself is lost, as well. She wants music, but she feels that pursuing it would be a betrayal to her father.
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Format: Hardcover
For the better part of this novel, I had the strongest feeling that it would receive three stars from me. After finishing this novel, I couldn’t give it more than two.

My favorite thing about this novel was the obvious dedication and infatuation with music. Ohlin clearly spent a great deal of time researching the proper terminologies and the most beautiful compositions. The passion bled through the pages.
Our characters were racially diverse, which was nice. Beatrice is Asian, her friend seemed to be biracial - black and white. And of course, the sexy professor type was British. There were also a few LBGTQ characters mentioned and though none had an actual role in the book, I still appreciated that she included a same sex marriage.

These observations considered… I couldn’t move past her main characters’ vocabulary. Our main character, Beatrice, is seventeen years old. She and her friend Plum are the top two students in their rather esteemed school. Perfect grades, high intellect, Harvard prospects even. Yet… Beatrice’s voice did not portray her intelligence. In fact, her vocabulary tended to be juvenile at best, as she often used words like “totally” and overused the word “also” one too many times. (Also, Plum is 17 and still calls her parents Mommy and Daddy. Not even in a cute way, just… in a very childish way. Perhaps it was just a personal judgement. Perhaps I just yearn to hear more intellectual language in young adult fiction.)

I love teacher/student affair books and I’m drawn to them and I should really learn my lesson because most of them disappoint.
Ohlin really had me invested with the sincere concern and honest hope Dane had for Beatrice. He wasn’t creepy or inappropriate. He was supportive and strong and honest.
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Format: Hardcover
Bea loves playing the piano, but she feels she has to hide her desire to make a career out of playing from her father and everyone else. When Bea meets Dane Rossi, she finds someone she believes can finally understand her, and she falls quickly and intensely as they bond over music. The catch: Dane is her teacher.

Consent is not a novel to read lightly. Nancy Ohlin takes a serious issue and dives head first into it with a well-thought out story that invites, above all, room for discussion. Like most strong novels about a taboo subject, readers will find questions and more questions, instead of any one-sided answer. And, as again with most novels about taboo subjects, more than a few areas will make readers uncomfortable. I left the story myself with a jumble of thoughts and feelings that I’m not sure how to sort.

Consent is more than a story about a taboo subject, however. Bea’s personal journey outside of romance is touching. For the most part, Bea is an unreliable narrator. Herself and Dane, and the people around them, could be read an infinite number of ways, and the reader never truly gets a set answer about the heart of each character. Yet, when it comes to Bea’s musical path, she character shines off the page. She tries to hide her love for the piano because music reminds her father of her dead mother, and she struggles to both accept what she wants career/college wise and ask others, like her father, to accept it as well. Her family dynamic is realistic and sincere, never sugar-coated but has nice room for some sweetness.

Final Verdict:

Consent is a difficult novel to read. Nancy Ohlin presents a kaleidoscope of possible lens to view a student-teacher relationship, many of them more uncomfortable than the last. The strong writing and room for discussion make Consent a story about which to think long and hard, and many readers will find Bea’s struggle to accept her dreams realistic and truthful.
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