Book Review: Me & Mr J (Rachel McIntyre)
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: January 29th 2015
Summary (From Goodreads):
Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.
Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.
And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?
Argh where to start with this book?!
It’s not the sort of thing I’d usually pick up and when I read what it was about I wasn’t really convinced. But when Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa said she was giving away a proof copy I decided I’d be open minded and give it a try.
OMG I am so glad I did. The first thing that drew me in was the narrative voice: it was so realistic I was surprised the author wasn’t a teenager herself. It’s not often you find a voice that authentic. Even some of the best ones I’ve read before, there’s always been a little giveaway that tells me it’s not really a teenager talking, but this one had it down to a T (tee?) The slang was perfect, there was a good amount of swearing (maybe off putting to some put I know I swore a lot when I was that age so it feels natural). I spent most of the first few pages just enjoying the voice.
Into the plot then… it is an awkward one. You know that, whatever the situation, it’s wrong. I went in with that mindset and I came out with it, but the in-between was not so black and white. It felt natural for Lara to turn to him, the one person who didn’t constantly bully and belittle her. I even kind of wanted them to get together, because Lara deserved a break. Everything she went through was horrible, from the awkward home situation to the horrific bullying. It really was vicious stuff and I felt for her at every bad turn.
I think that was how the book made you normalise their relationship. After taking every beating with Lara, you craved Mr. J’s niceness just as much as she did. And when the lies began to unravel and I knew they were about to get caught I was praying to have them stay together, even though I knew it was wrong.
I felt the ending was appropriate as the only way things could really end. Even with the wonderful story behind it and a touching relationship, Mr J was always going to be in the wrong in his position and, whatever Lara wanted, however much she needed it, nothing should ever happen between a teacher and a student.
In short, this book will break your heart a little, but you should read it anyway because it’s beautiful and real and I loved it.
If you enjoyed this, you might like Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton.