Monday, 20 June 2016

Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre (4.5/5)

First published: 2015
Page count: 313
The back says: 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?

I say: I read this in one sitting and loved most of it. It was amazingly riveting and although I could see a lot of things coming, there seemed to be a twist around each bend that made me question the outcome.

The synopsis mentions the horrifying bullying that Lara is put through, but I was in no way even close to prepared for how intense it was. I grew up before social media, so the way these kids were using it to spread the bullying to everyone in school was beyond my emotional grasp.

Yes, kids are cruel, but to that extent? 

When it comes to Mr J and Lara, the way their relationship unfolded seemed plausible. However, this is where my adult brain kicks in and on the one hand felt troubled by Mr J reciprocating Lara’s emotions, and on the other hand understanding why Lara would do anything to get him.

Which leads us to that terrible ending...

I don’t want to call it insulting, but it felt abrupt and moralising. Perhaps this is where McIntyre was taking the story all along, however I wish it had been handled a little bit different.

Lara’s voice seemed authentic, and even though it was at times distressing taking part in her life, this is a book that I would recommend to any teen in my life. 

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