Review: Unteachable by Leah Raeder

17978680 Rating: 4.5/5
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Author: Leah Raeder
Release Date: July 26, ’13 by Velvet Pony Press
Number of pages: 286
Sources: Review copy from author
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This novel contains graphic sexual content and strong language. It is intended for mature readers. 

I met him at a carnival, of all corny places. The summer I turned eighteen, in that chaos of neon lights and cheap thrills, I met a man so sweet, so beautiful, he seemed to come from another world. We had one night: intense, scary, real. Then I ran, like I always do. Because I didn’t want to be abandoned again.

But I couldn’t run far enough.

I knew him as Evan that night. When I walked into his classroom, he became Mr. Wilke.

My teacher.

I don’t know if what we’re doing is wrong. The rules say one thing; my heart says screw the rules. I can’t let him lose his job. And I can’t lose him.

In the movies, this would have a happy ending. I grow up. I love, I lose, I learn. And I move on. But this is life, and there’s no script. You make it up as you go along.

And you don’t pray for a happy ending. You pray for it to never end.


Just to let y’all know, I don’t read New Adult a lot. There was Easy and a few others I can’t recall right now, but it was never a genre that absolutely enthralled me. A lot of them are more cliché than the YA dystopias we are getting, and some are downright trashy. It’s just not my thing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t “gems” out there, because they exist, as Unteachable by Leah Raeder has proven. NA isn’t my favorite genre, but this book is making me reconsider.

I don’t really know how to describe this book other than it being absolutely raw, intense, and honest. I read this with no high or low expectations, and man, did it hit me like pick-up truck! I have no doubt in my mind right now that was a quality book, and books in this genre should strive to reach its calibre. Yes, folks, Unteachable has set the bar high. If ever the time comes that I’ll read another NA book, it better be this excellent or better, lest it will get three stars or less from me.

I love first person narratives. I love how it allows the reader to see the deepest thoughts of the character and make the story feel more personal and genuine. The narrative in this case is one of those rare ones that really does it right. I liked the main character, Maise. She’s spunky, feisty, rebellious, and sarcastic. But behind that brave façade is a kind and fragile spirit that seeks those who can and are willing to understand her. Despite the fact that I am nowhere like Maise, I couldn’t help but forge a deep relationship with her as I read her thoughts and fears throughout the book. It was like listening to an old friend tell her life story with all the intricacies, or listening to a grandparent recall his childhood with such vibrancy. I loved how the narrative absolutely and perfectly captured each moment in striking and resounding detail without going too far too much.

Let me make it easier for you guys.

If I could compare the narrative to one thing, I’d compare it to Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Give it a long look. In it, you feel a sense of melancholy. You sense the painter’s sorrow, pain, and pent-up feelings. But even with this knowledge, you can’t help but feel awe. You can’t help but feel how the sadness makes the painting so beautiful, how the pain makes it bewitching. You are enthralled by it all.

That’s how the narrative in Unteachable feels to me and why it’s so memorable. The author has woven a tale that’s largely sad and painful, but it’s so beautiful to read and consume at the same time. The characters grew to me, the story grew to me, and eventually, everything grew to me, that it made me feel a hundred percent immersed in the book.

I also loved the subject matter, as it’s so real. Age gaps are something that I don’t read often in fiction. The last time I read age gaps being the central conflict in fiction was when I tried to read a Danielle Steel book. It happens often in the real world – younger person falling in love with a significantly older person and vice versa – that I was legitimately wondering why there aren’t any more books about this. I was so happy when I found out the relationship here was something like that because I could finally read something I could somehow relate to, since I’m also in such a relationship. It was fun to read, and since I felt very attached to Maise, it felt like seeing a dear friend of mine enacting how it was for me then. I loved how it was portrayed so genuinely and so honestly, how it effectively showcased the possible conflicts that could rise (especially since it was a teacher/student relationship, too), and how it illustrated a healthy bond between two people depends on the efforts of both parties, and not because of factors like age.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book, and am recommending it to those who love New Adult and those who’d like to enter this genre with a good book. There IS a lot of sex in it, though, and thankfully, they were hot, hot, HOT! Honestly the best I’ve read ;-)

Final verdict: 4.5 stars!!

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    The concept is totally intriguing. Me like it a lot! The cover looks like a self published book, though. I would not have picked this one because of the cover.

    Okay, I’m reading it.

  2. says

    OMG Faye, I’m so glad I followed your advice with this one. Now that I’ve read it, I completely agree with your Starry Night analogy. Maise’s voice is both graphic and poetic, beautiful and sobering and above all, raw. I kind of wished there was a paperback of this, because I actually do like the cover. I didn’t realise it was a girl on there at first, but I like it.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I enjoyed it immensely!