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The Education of Sebastian (Volume 1) Paperback – January 16, 2014
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About the Author
Jane Harvey-Berrick has written a number of contemporary romances for adults. 'The Education of Sebastian' is probably her most controversial so far.
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The first time Carolina and Sebastian meet, he's only eight. His parents seems to ignore him. He would come and spend time at Carolina's house. During that time her father was visiting and the three of them had a great time together. Caro was already married to David. David was a medical officer in the US Navy. Just a few months after her marriage, she knew she was unhappy with a man like David. He was verbally abusive and made her feel inadequate. When David's orders sent them to the East, Sebastian is devastated to loose her.
Ten years later, Carolina Wilson is back in California. Still miserable. When Sebastian comes back into her life and they start spending time together, Caro knows this is dangerous. Sebastian is caring, sweet and makes her feel attractive again. What their relationship precipitates is indescribable.
I had mixed feelings about Caro and Sebastian's love story. On one hand, I knew their relationship was wrong. She was married. I believe, she should have walked away if she was unhappy. Cheating is never right. I can't lie and say the age difference didn't bother me either, because it certainly did. He was underage and she knew better. On the other hand, I felt awful for them. They were in love and they had so many obstacles to overcome.
“Every time something goes wrong, you give up on us. You’re killing me, Caro … I don’t know what will happen…but neither do you. Maybe we’ll make it…maybe we won’t. But you’re giving up before we’ve even tried. I don’t understand. Why won’t you take a chance?”
The story was very well developed...sometimes I felt too developed. But I really felt every emotion described in this book. I felt like I was with them on the beach, in the car, in their bedrooms, in the storeroom and in the bathroom. Sebastian’s sweet innocence was heart warming, but sometimes I felt like it was too much for him...this relationship..this love. Of course all good things come to an end and this forbidden love was discovered (finally), and things did not end well. I was heartbroken for both of them. Onto book 2
A teenager who has never experienced real parental love or care is primed for sexual exploitation. It's very hard for me to feel good about an adult taking advantage of a person in that situation, even if they do convince themselves that the feelings are mutual.
Caroline is a 30-year-old married woman who has difficulty standing up for herself. As a result, she is in a loveless marriage. Her husband is less a fully realized character than a walking collection of personality traits to justify Caroline's decision to cheat on him. When they relocate to San Diego, where they lived early in their marriage, she reconnects with Sebastian. She initially befriended him when he was eight. His parents never demonstrated much love and affection and so the time he spend with Caroline meant a great deal to him. It's obvious that he is emotionally fragile and desperate for affection.
His desperation for affection is what ultimately formed the barrier that kept me from accepting this as a sweet story of forbidden love. To make it worse, Caroline should know better -- because she entered her marriage at a young age in order to escape her mother's cruelty. Having been there herself, she is still willing to exploit Sebastian.
She did seem emotionally stunted and she didn't seem like a bad person as much as she seemed thoughtless and selfish. The reviews that raved about Sebastian as a "book boyfriend" really made me cringe. What reaction would a book with this plot -- but with a unloved seventeen-year-old woman and a thirty-year-old man--receive? In that moment where Sebastian was in front of Caroline, and she realized that he was being physically abused, if she cared for him, she had an obligation to help him (I would argue that even if she didn't care for him, we do have an obligation to help minors who are subject to parental abuse). But instead she took him to bed.
Well, I don't have to like a main character or approve of their decisions in order to enjoy a book. That would make the world of fiction pretty dull. But given that the book is told from Caroline's POV and it's a romance, there seems to be a tacit acceptance of her choices embedded in the novel itself. This could still work, but I also felt that the primary antagonists (Caroline's husband and Sebastian's parents) were just too nasty to be believable. They exist to validate the choices made by Caroline. There are two types of secondary characters in this novel -- those who do terrible things with insufficient motivation (the husband, parents, Sebastian's ex, even Caroline's editor) and people who provide love and support to Caroline no matter what she does (Donna, for example). This lack of realism kept me from enjoying the novel.
Most recent customer reviews
At times I thought I wouldn't continue reading as the pace wasn't gripping.Read more