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Unteachable Paperback – October 14, 2014
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"Lyrical, vivid, and poignant, Unteachable is one of best forbidden romances I've ever read." -- Lauren Blakely ― New York Times bestselling author
"Unteachable infuses the complicated dynamics of forbidden sexual tension and untamed passion, all while managing to break your heart. Easily one of my favorite reads." -- Gail McHugh ― New York Times bestselling author
"With lush, haunting prose, deft storytelling and scorching sensuality, Leah Raeder weaves a love story that obliterates convention. The best book I’ve read this year." -- M. Pierce ― bestselling author of the Night Owl Trilogy
"Leah Raeder's writing is skillful and stunning. Unteachable is one of the most beautifully powerful stories of forbidden love that I have ever read." -- Mia Sheridan ― bestselling author of Archer's Voice
“Unteachable is a lyrical masterpiece with a vivid storyline that grabbed me from the very first page. The flawless writing and raw characters are pure perfection, putting it in a class all by itself.” -- Brooke Cumberland ― USA Today bestselling author of Spark
"With an electrifying fusion of forbidden love and vivid writing, the characters glow in Technicolor. Brace yourselves to be catapulted to dizzying levels with evocative language, panty-blazing sex scenes, and emotions so intense they will linger long after the last page steals your heart." -- Pam Godwin ― New York Times bestselling author of Beneath the Burn
"A simply stunning portrayal of lies, courage and unrequited love. Raeder has a gift for taking taboo subjects and seducing us with them in the rawest, most beautiful way." -- S.L. Jennings ― New York Times bestselling author of Taint
"Unique and poetic. You can feel every forbidden touch and taste every delicious kiss between these characters, and like them, you hunger for more. Read it and become immersed in Raeder’s brilliant writing. You won’t regret it." -- Mia Asher, author of Arsen
Praise for Cam Girl:
“Raeder’s beautifully broken characters are so full of life that they leap off the page and demand that the reader pay attention to them…it’s a must read for anyone wanting a sexy deep dive into a tangled psyche and a difficult life.” ― Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Cam Girl is a beautiful exploration of gender and sexuality that begs readers to question how well we know those closest to us, including ourselves. Raeder's trademark sensual lyricism is in full effect here, but it's the fraught yet tender relationship between Vada and Ellis that will have you glued to the pages until the oh-so-perfect ending." -- Dahlia Adler, author of UNDER THE LIGHTS
“Raeder keeps the action moving as readers try to figure out the dual mysteries—what happened on the road that night, and who is Blue?" ― Booklist
“Gripping, emotional, relatable, and yes, romantic (in all the best ways) read. Whatever Raeder writes, I will always want to read and recommend.” ― RT Magazine
“Raeder’s best book yet. It has the grit, language, and heat you’d expect, but there’s more. Raeder has clearly dug down and bled and studied the mirror to reveal the ugliest and most beautiful parts of herself, and human nature. CAM GIRL is a rich and unflinching narrative.” -- Emery Lord, author of Open Road Summer
Praise for Black Iris:
"Like an afternoon special on bullying gone impossibly dark, Raeder's dizzyingly intense, drug-addicted queer teenage revenge fantasy takes its reader on a sexy, bloody journey of pure emotion that's by turns expressed, denied, and turned back in on itself. Delaney Keating, viciously mistreated in high school for her attraction to girls and damaged by her unstable mother's suicide, falls into a love triangle with two of the dramatic inhabitants of underground dance club Umbra: DJ and patient medical student Armin, and impulsive, fierce, deliciously sensual Blythe. She pulls them into her scheme of violence against her abusers in a heady mélange of lust and bloodlust, while the triad pulls against itself with internal jealousies. A twisting timeline dancing over a year's events makes every moment seem both immediate and angrily steeped in memory. Major themes include depression, mania, and the ways that the use and abuse of drugs affect access to the reality of self and the world's essential nature; but the soul-searching always comes in the context of action, everyone around hit by the shrapnel of exploding feelings. This is an exhilarating ride for our inner underdog, craving a taste of what it would feel like to just get back at everyone if we were reckless enough not to care about the consequences." ― Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Risky, brave, bold. Heart-breaking, captivating, and sensual. There aren’t enough words to describe this suspenseful powerhouse of a novel. Raeder’s gorgeous prose and raw characters will keep you flipping to the very end. Black Iris is one of the best books I’ve read this year."
"Intense and visceral, Black Iris is as sharp as a knife and beats with a heart that is double-edged and dangerous." -- Lauren Blakely ― New York Times bestselling author
"Provocative, seductive, and skillfully written, Black Iris is a story that stands out from the crowd." -- K.A. Tucker ― USA Today Bestselling Author
"Raeder masterfully weaves a dark, twisted, dangerously sexy quest for revenge with a raw, honest search for kinship and self-acceptance. Black Iris demands your attention, your heart, and an immediate reread." -- Dahlia Adler ― author of Last Will and Testament
“Equally wicked as it is beautiful. This story is one of the best reads I've read to date. My book hangover afterward was real. It honestly opened my eyes to all things LGBTQIA+ and the importance of treating mental illness. Overall a very note-worthy read that everyone should digest at least once.” ― Book Baristas
About the Author
- Publisher : Atria Books; Reprint edition (October 14, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476786402
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476786407
- Item Weight : 9.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.9 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #435,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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As the author writes in the acknowledgments, quote: "Writing is easy," said someone far wiser than me. "You just open a vein and bleed."
This story has an ominous quality to it—misty and mysterious and dangerous. It felt like I was viewing it through a gauzy curtain or a drug induced haze. There was lots of color in the author's descriptions, but the movie in my head kept reverting to black and white like film noir.
I loved this story. It's all about black and white and the many, many shades of gray in between. It's about ethics and morality. When is it ok to not be yourself? When is it ok to do what you feel is wrong? When is it ok to betray those you love? When is it ok to give up? These main characters are spectacularly screwed up, yet despite their age difference, in terms of maturity they are a match. But Maise represents the aspirational, and Evan represents the jaded crushed spirit. Maise still has hope for the future and Evan wants her to have it even though he believes he's blown it for himself. Their future as a couple is surely in doubt. They are the HEA that isn't.
I can't recall reading any romance stories that I can call a piece of art, that stimulate thought on so many levels—from the cosmic to the philosophical to the mundane. It's the kind of story that you will want to read more than once to gain a fuller understanding. I know this story will stick with me for a very long time. I suppose it's not for everybody, but for me it was over and above most other books that I've read and I don't want to ever forget about it.
Top reviews from other countries
For me, the best thing about this book was the writing style. I realise that the poetic, dream sequence-like writing is never going to appeal to everyone, but for this story it worked. It created the impression that the heroine, Maise, was permanently living in a dream, rose-coloured glasses and all.
The plot, girl has one-night-stand with man who turns out to be her teacher, isn’t the most original (Pretty Little Liars, anyone?) but Elliott Wake made it his own and gave it a creative twist. However, it was predictable and cliche at times. I could see the ending coming a mile away. The author could have taking his time a little bit more towards the ending of the book, which did feel slightly rushed and sloppy.
Both main characters were so imperfectly flawed which was very refreshing. I don’t think the author had the intention of making either character particularly likeable, but rather a reflection of how imperfect we all are. However, I couldn’t help but root for Maise O’Malley throughout the entire book.
I loved Maise’s character. She was pretentious, with a side of superiority complex, but also intelligent and caring. Evan is someone I would absolutely despise if I ever came across him in real life. And for this reason, he worked so well as ‘the teacher’ in this book. Some of the side characters were a bit bland, boring and unrealistic, but I’ve never read a book where I liked everyone.
5 stars for Maise & Mr. Wilke!
I love Leah Raeder's writing! She is an incredibly talented author and certainly one I will be watching for in the future. This book is so cleverly written and so engaging! I've highlighted so many quotes in this book. And now I have to narrow it down to fit into this review. Yeh... trust me, this is narrowed down!
This is the story of Maise O'Malley and Evan Wilke.
Maise is a screwed up, cynical, hard-faced eighteen year old girl, with a tortured past, a non existent Dad and a poor excuse for a mother.
Maise meets the gorgeous Evan at a carnival and they share a few hours of intense passion, all consuming lust and then Maise does the only thing she knows how to do. She bails.
She doesn't expect to see the beautiful stranger again... she especially doesn't expect to see him sitting at the teacher's desk when she walks into her film class on the first day of her senior year.
But neither of them can help pursuing this forbidden relationship.
'What is this feeling? I wondered. What is this hunger that grows worse the more I feed it?
They'd come up with a name for it a long time ago. But you already know what it's called, don't you?'
I really enjoyed the honesty that these characters displayed when they acknowledged the fact their relationship was completely built on the excitement of the forbidden element. And what happens when it's no longer off limits? When she is no longer his student and he no longer her teacher. Is 'normal' enough for two broken souls who seem to thrive on the rebellion of conducting a relationship that is considered morally wrong?
'The removal of all boundaries, all distractions, leaving us with nothing but each other - scary. What kind of people would we be without secrecy and desperation?'
This is so much more than just a romance. It's incredibly seductive. There is nothing illegal about Maise and Evan's relationship re. age of consent, so it's just morally questionable, for those of you wondering. But the sex scenes are so sensual, they'll make your toes curl! It's taboo, so obviously there's the element of wanting what you can't have, so those of who love anything a little bit naughty will adore this...
'He embraced me, and said into my ear, "I'm going to f*** the s*** out of you."
I lost my breath.
It was crude, it was unexpected, and it set me on f***ing fire.'
... but it's more than that. Maise's internal monologues are so honest and true. She voices things that we all think, yet didn't even realise we think. Her observations during sex are frank, yet extremely erotic. There is an innocence in her that is intriguing to read and the mere trueness of her thoughts makes it that much more sexy. It's written in such a way that you can almost feel the things she's feeling.
'His hand circled the back of my neck. "I need you tonight."
Has there ever been a more effective line in the history of pickup lines than "I need you?"'
The imagery in this book is so strong. The colours, the seasons, the weather, the sex, the emotion, the scene setting, the atmosphere. You can almost, feel/taste/smell/hear everything that the characters experience, thanks to the soulful, descriptive writing. The excitement, the thrills, the highs and the lows, the fear, the desperation, the sensuality between the two characters, the angst. I had such strong visuals throughout this book. The metaphors that the author uses are wonderful. I was so drawn in to this story that at times I totally forgot that I was reading. I was lost to Maise and Evan's world. And that was all thanks to the writing.
Maise is a film student and parts of this book were written as if it were a film script. I loved that... again, it allowed the words on the page to disappear and the story to turn into a film-roll in my head.
So, let's talk about the characters. I know that some people weren't taken with Maise O'Malley. I loved her. She's completely nuts. She has no filter between her brain and her mouth, but not in a clumsy way, just in a no bulls*** way.
'It wasn't about flirting with death, like Mom. It was about wanting to live all the way to the seams of life.'
She's had a terrible childhood, she's brought herself up, been neglected and experienced things that no child should have to experience, and her tough exterior reflects that. She's hardened, suspicious of everything and everyone, un-trusting, defensively arrogant, sardonic... but I just loved her.
'Yeah, I hook up with older guys. And then I leave them, before they can leave me.
Thanks for the abandonment issues, Dad. F*** you very much.'
I loved her for surviving and for her determination. I enjoyed the bluntness and the strength of character. I also enjoyed watching her change and soften, against her will, throughout the book. I liked that she was both predator and prey; a walking contradiction.
'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 adored Evan, too. I have to say I was a little disappointed in him towards the end of this book. For me, he didn't fight hard enough for his girl. I get that he was being romantic and trying to do the right thing; 'loving her enough to let her go'... but that didn't sit well with me. Sod that. Man up! Luckily, he does redeem himself by the end of the book, so don't panic. However, having said that, for the most part of the book he is just perfect. He's the perfect mix of upstanding, respectable teacher, sensitive lover and sexy rule breaker.
"I'm also thinking the night I met you was like someone handed me a winning lottery ticket and said, 'You can only have it if you don't tell anyone.'"
He gave me a sad smile. "I feel like that too."
"Do you start to wonder if it's even real?"
"All the time. Like maybe I made you up on that rollercoaster."
He's a sad soul and I just wanted to protect him. Obviously, Maise is the young, vulnerable one in this relationship, so I felt that Evan spent a lot of time offering her strength, and rightly so. But I really wanted him to open up, share his problems with her and get the support he needed to battle his own demons. My heart ached for him.
"Nobody knows how to be a grown-up. We're all just pretending for each other."
And I really felt his love for Maise. I loved that he just couldn't help himself where she was concerned. He couldn't stay away. There is nothing sexier than a man that just can not keep away from the woman he is infatuated with. I love it when you can really feel that obsession and I got that with 'Unteachable'.
"You should love something while you have it, love it fully and without reservation, even if you know you'll lose it someday. We love 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."
Surprisingly, I really liked the ending of this book. Now, usually, I like everything all wrapped up and adorned with a pretty little bow. I want to know exactly what happens with the characters. I want to know the date of the wedding and how many kids they are having and the name of their family dog! Lol! You don't get that with 'Unteachable'. You do get a happy ending. However, it's quite vague and it leaves an awful lot to the imagination. I'd usually even say that there would be the possibility of a sequel, but I just don't get the impression that that would be Leah Raeder's style. The ambiguity of the ending was kind of what made it what it was. Ambiguity really isn't usually my thing... I like everything tied down and spelled out for me... but this just worked. It fit the style, the characters, the nature of the plot. It was the perfect ending for Evan and Maise.
'You can call it love, or you can call it freefall. They're pretty much the same thing.'
Before I finish, I have to mention Wesley. I felt he was such a special part of this book and signified so much. He was Maise's best friend, the boy her age, the boy should could have but didn't want, as opposed to the man she wanted but shouldn't have. He was the safe, the dependable, the reliable, the taken-for-granted. I have such a soft spot for this character.
So, this book was so much more than I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to read a typical, steamy, high-school, teacher/student, taboo romance. And that would have been fine, I'd have enjoyed that... but what I got was an alluring, addictive story of two tortured, broken souls, piecing one another back together, dealing with twists and turns that will make your head spin. I'd highly recommend this book, but do go in with an open mind.
* Steam Rating (out of 5): ♥♥♥♥♥
* Ending: HEA
* Length: 356 pages
* Narrative: Maise's POV. First person. Past tense.
* Series: ✗
* Can this be read as a standalone? Yes
* WARNING. This book includes...
Sexual content. Forbidden love. Drugs.
* Writing: Fantastic
Review by Smitten's Book Blog
When Evan and Maise meet they're just two strangers at the carnival, and they're very much attracted to each other. They have hot and steamy sex in Evan's car and then Maise walks away, sure that she'll never see him again.
So when she walks into her film class at the start of school imagine her surprise when the E. Wilke on her class schedule turns out to be Evan. Cue panic and heart-pounding tension!
It was just one huge car-crash after that, one that you know won't end well, but you can't look away from it. I was sucked into the book, and even though what they were doing was morally wrong, it wasn't illegal, and I loved the effect the relationship had on Maise.
The story is narrated by Maise, and she describes an unpleasant childhood. She didn't have much of a childhood at all. Her mother is a drug addict, selling herself for money, leaving Maise to fend for herself. She learnt at a young age that men are only after one thing, so she decided to play the game and treat men indifferently, she used them and didn't get involved emotionally.
Evan was different though, from the moment she met him she felt something. When she discovered he was her teacher, the taboo nature spurred her on, the sneaking around made it more exciting. It was more than that though, and they do have a relationship that is more than just sex. He encourages her to aim high and follow her dreams and their relationship is her haven in her otherwise bleak life.
I couldn't put the book down, I was just waiting for the moment the proverbial would hit the fan, and when it does it is spectacular. I didn't see it coming at all.
The fall out was devastating for Maise, but she is resilient and resourceful, and revenge is sweet! I loved how things came together, and the end had me in tears
It began "When your eighteen there's Not much to do in a Southern Illinois summer but eat fried pickles, drink tallboys you stole from you Mom, and ride the tilt-a whirl till you hurl. Which is exactly what I was doing the night I met Him. You can call it love, or you can call it freefall. They're pretty much the same thing!.
So I was sold.
The plot has been done before - a story of a teacher/pupil forbidden relationship, but what has Leah Raeder written that is so different? The prose, it was simply beautiful. It stood out and each sentence was smooth and evocative.
Maise is the captain of her own fate. Her childhood was not normal and boys of her own age bored her. To Maise they were like over sensitive car alarms. Her experience with boys was limited, her first time she didn't know it had happened, second time lasted seconds. That was it - until she met Him.
They met at the carnival, he kissed her in the back of his car, and then they had sex, slow languorous sex. All inhibitions lost. That night Maise knew him as Evan.
Then she ran.
Her first day of school she saw Him first - Evan became Mr Wilke - her class teacher.
So what made me give this book 5 stars. Well for me it was refreshing to read a book that I felt was like real literature. This was not a pretentious lyrical young adult story. It was much more. The prose was hypnotic and there was nothing mundane or boring about Leah Raeder's writing style.
Neither was it just a story about a teacher and pupil who fall in love. The author makes the reader feel how good it is to be alive, to learn to be the person you are and don't look at the world through rose tinted glasses.
I loved her characters. Maise was confident, witty and intelligent and sometimes you had to kick back and realize she was eighteen.
Evan was 32 - 14 years older than Maise and I loved that. Both had childhood issues and both thrown into adulthood by their dysfunctional families.
In the movies they would have their happy ending - they lose, they learn ,they love and they move on. But this is their life and there is no script. So what happens in the end to Maise and Evan?
Read it and see where their script takes them. I cannot recommend it enough.
Note that I have had to alter the quote taken from the book as Amazon apparently did not like the use of the F word despite it being in the book that they are selling!
This was really hard for me to rate because it was actually, like, a brilliant book. Just - really well written and engrossing and engaging and the overall quality of it should get it five stars alone.
But but but.
I just couldn't connect with the characters *sad face*.
I know this is an it's-me-not-you thing because obviously no one else had any problems connecting with Maise and Evan. But, the fact that I couldn't connect meant that their love scenes? Didn't do it for me. Their situation? I wasn't bothered. Their angst? Sorta annoyed me. And it is so frustrating for me to sit here and realise that this book is sort of incredible and I can't fully appreciate it because I couldn't drum up an affinity for the characters.
I'm going to try and be objective about this.
Unteachable deserves all the hype that it has received. Like, hella.
Firstly. The writing? Woah.
"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."
I believe Leah Raeder once described her own writing as "pretentiously lyrical" and that is a completely accurate description but it actually really works. There's only a certain type of fiction that can make pretentiously lyrical work; this is also true of certain types of writers. Maggie Stiefvater is one of these writers. Her books, the Raven Cycle, is an example of this certain type of fiction. Leah Raeder and Unteachable are another example. Even though the two sets of writing are pretentiously lyrical in completely different ways.
But yeah. What I'm trying to say is that Leah Raeder does with her writing what people like Tahereh Mafi epically fail at. So, the writing is incredible.
The plot is simple yet effective: Girl meets boy. Girl sleeps with boy. Girl leaves boy. Girl pines for boy. Boy turns out to be her teacher. They get it on. Repeatedly. Things start to go to s**t. Formulaic and simple. Also, very effective. I think the fact that the story is so realistic helps us engage with it.
How many of us, at eighteen, had a thing for one of our teachers? How many of us, at eighteen were sexually aware enough that given half the chance we probably would have gone along with it. I remember "that" teacher for me: He was the P.E teacher. He was young, he was beautiful, he was funny and he gave a s**t about us and given half the chance I would have jumped his bones.
This is something that is happening all over the world. But instead of making this about the teacher abusing his position of authority, Raeder makes this a story about two genuinely messed up people trying desperately to pull some happiness into their lives; trying to claw out a hand-hold for themselves in the world. I never once felt like the relationship between Maise and Evan was unequal because they were both equally infatuated with each other.
In fact, Raeder gives us quite a few gritty topics in this book and then gives us a completely different way of looking at all of them: Maise's drug ruined home. Wesley's single parent home. Hiyam's privileged life. Nothing about this book is "typical."
This book deserves five stars. Because I'm emotionally stunted, I wanted to give it three. I settled on giving it four.