Unteachable by Leah Raeder

9781476786414_unteachable_cvrUnteachable by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria on March 24, 2014
Genres: [New Adult] Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Ebook
Source: Purchased

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

2 Stars, Completed April 10, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS  –

Unteachable is deep and important, and perhaps more than just a romance. It gave me an honest and raw insight of a more physical and taboo relationship, which is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Yet this was the first time in which one detail completely ruined my enjoyment for a book.

I was still a teenager, and part of being a teenager was constantly checking your answers against everyone else’s. What did you get for number four? Is falling in love with someone twice your age gross, weird, amazing, or all of the above?

Maise O’Malley has recently turned eighteen. Her deadbeat father has long since been out of the picture and she lives with her junkie/dealer mother. Maise has always only relied on one person: herself. For that reason, she feels much older than eighteen-or at least too mature for the “naive” boys her age. So she has no problem with hooking up and using older men, but the summer before senior year she decides she wants to turn over a new leaf and reinvents herself. But right before school begins, she meets Evan Wilke on a rollercoaster at a carnival and she finds herself freefalling into intense love. However, the night ends with it being a no strings attached one night stand and Maise returns to her new, original resolve. That is until she realizes on her first day of school that Evan is actually her new film class teacher. Even with some time since that fateful carnival night, there’s no denying the chemistry and strong attraction they still have for each other. And with this, there lives will never be the same becoming messy and dangerous.

I’ve never read a new adult book (I once thought I did with some of Jennifer Echols standalones but after reading this I’d say those are on the young adult spectrum since they’re much more tame). Lately, I’ve fallen out of love with ya lit but choosing Unteachable as my first probably wasn’t the best idea. Among my friends, I am known to be the best Cards Against Humanity player (aka I am “entertaining” since I’m “so innocent”). I wouldn’t really consider myself a prude but I don’t voluntarily pick up provocative or steamy romances either. I’m not against sex in literature but I prefer reading clean romances personally. Unteachable had a lot of explicit, graphic sex scenes, which may have been too provocative for my taste.

After reading the first chapter I soon knew there was no way I could fully be able to relate to Maise (she’s certainly my antithesis) and it would take lots to persuade me to believe in Maise and Evan’s relationship because I don’t like forbidden romances to begin with and I’ve never been in a purely physical relationship to understand the type of love represented in Unteachable. Even so, I gave this a chance because a student/teacher relationship sounded intriguing (I really loved Rose and Dimitri in Vampire Academy series), and I still had hopes I’d be convinced of the romance.

“Did you see her?” I said.
He raised his eyebrows.
“The real me.”
“She’s right here,” he said, and kissed me.

Like I said, it wasn’t exactly all the sex that turned me off towards Maise and Evan’s relationship (no pun intended). To be honest, the romance began quite swoonworthy and sweet, but for me appeared short-lived after one important detail readers learn about Evan in the last quarter of the story. It greatly disturbed me that he had already had a relationship with another high school girl before Maise. Knowing that completely ruined my view of him. It made him appear much creepier and this forbidden romance became even less appealing to me. Without this detail, I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed the romance and story a lot more.

I’ve been pretty honest so far, haven’t I? So I’ll admit: it wasn’t innocent, blind love. His age drew me to him in the first place, now it was his being my teacher that gave me a wild, terrified thrill every time we touched, infusing me with adrenaline, making my skin prickled. The danger was an electrode buried in my brain, lighting up my most primal fear and pleasure circuits. There was more to it, of course. Something was unfolding in me that had never opened before. But I wasn’t kidding myself. The forbiddenness was a part of it.

However, I still really respect Leah Raeder for staying true to painting a real taboo relationship by keeping the story realistic as possible. She displayed the couples indecisiveness, insecurities, and doubts. I liked the mini arc with Maise and Evan reevaluating their relationship and wondering if they’re only attracted to each other because of the forbidden aspect of their relationship. But I admit the scenes where they were aroused because of the unbalanced powers made me slightly perturbed.

And, honestly, all the sex did bother me some. Instead, of viewing their relationship as a way for Maise to find herself and for Evan to heal himself from his past, I could only remember the unhealthy and obsessive nature of it. There was a lot of crazed and impulsive sex, which weren’t scenes I was crazy about reading in detail for as often as they appeared.

And something I never could get my head around was why were all the adults okay with Maise and underage drinking? I can understand with Maise’s own mother and maybe the drug lord, but even with Evan who was always trying to be honorable and considerate of Maise’s future? And even with Siobhan, Wesley’s mother? I don’t know, I found that to be puzzling.

Speaking of Siobhan, I found it really far fetched that she, too, was once in a student-teacher relationship. I’ve read articles about scandals and I know that some professors and graduate students in my university date legally and openly, but are these relationships really that common? Common enough for Maise to meet one coincidently?

But there were still some parts to the book that I loved. Unteachable possesses such beautiful lyrical and poetic prose, which I was immensely fond of and may be the sole reason that is preventing me from giving this a lower rating. There are some emphasis on the arts with cinematographic throwbacks and references (Studio Ghibli, Breakfast Club, Casablanca, etc), and I loved how the beginning third of the story was written like a film itself with “I won’t know this until later…” The foreshadowing was ominous but still remained mysterious. The unexpected turns were nice bonuses.

Another piece I could really appreciate are the truly messed up characters. The majority of the cast were appropriately unlikable. Our protagonist is vain, irrational, and naive despite her protests of being more of an adult than kids her age. And the supporting characters were just as flawed if not more. Of them all, I was most sympathetic towards Wesley (more than I thought I would-initally he seemed uber clingy and slightly creepy) because he was the character that reeled in reality for both the readers and Maise at times where we and she needed it most.

Lastly, though I’m part of the minority that doesn’t ship the main couple, the ending was very, very cute.

Overall, I think this book just wasn’t for me. It was too provocative for my taste to begin with, and the game changing detail that I couldn’t ignore didn’t help. However, the poetic writing was evocative and alluring. Unteachable executes a romance that is so unlike anything I’ve read before and it should be recognized for the deep subliminal messages it suggests. I would still highly recommend to fans of dark, sexy romances.


Summer’s Playlist:
FML | It Won’t Stop | Coffee | Talking Body | Drunk on Love | Love Me Like You Do
*the bold/underlined are must listens!

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Blog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

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33 thoughts on “Unteachable by Leah Raeder

  1. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    Great review! I don’t think it’s a book that I would enjoy so much, because of all the explicit, graphic sex scenes, I don’t really like that kind of book. That’s too bad though, because the characters seemed very interesting, and I love a great romance, but I don’t think I would really enjoy that one. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Same! I wasn’t expecting it to be borderline erotica. Unteachable just really wasn’t for me. But you’re right, the characters were really different from most ya books so I definitely could see the mature aspect that made it NA aside from the graphic scenes. Thank you for reading and commenting, Marie! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. thesassygeek says:

    Awesome review, Summer! Leah Raeder is such a big deal in New Adult and I’ve been wanting to check her out but some of the problems you had with this book are probably the same ones I would have, so this review REALLY helps me out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thanks so much, Heather! Yes, Leah Raeder just wasn’t for me but I’m still going to venture a little more in the NA genre before ruling it out completely. I probably won’t give Raeder another try though since I’ve heard her other books are just as dark and graphic. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lois says:

    Great review Summer. I had honestly not heard of the book until now and while I usually like the forbidden romance trope, the little revelation about Evan basically flashed a bright red warning light. I always think there’s a delicate balance between the physical and emotional aspects of the relationships and this seems like the type of book that favours one over the other which is fine if you like that sort of thing but I’m a person that prefers to explore the depths of their relationship beyond it’s physicality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you, Lois! Exactly! You put my thoughts perfectly into words. I was overwhelmed by how much focus there was on the physical relationship. I’m so glad I’m not alone in thinking that way. Right! I should have known Evan was going to be such a creepy guy from the premise. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Zezee says:

    Oh I enjoyed this book when I read it. Evan’s past did make him seem creepy to me and for a while there I thought he was probably crazy and would hurt Maise; but then I thought maybe Raeder included that to throw readers off and make them uncertain about the relationship. I also didn’t get why the one parent who was aware of the relationship would be okay with it even though she experienced something similar.
    Anyways, I loved it and am thinking to reread it. I love the passion between Evan and Maise. And yeah, I thought they were obsessed with each other at one point but then I thought about falling passionately for someone and sometimes it can seem a bit obsessive when you just can’t bear to physically stay away from that other person for long. You just want to be around them, even if you’re doing nothing but reading a book.
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, Zezee! I actually think I’ve remembered you talking about Unteachable on your blog at some point (or I may be wrong). I never thought about Raeder’s intentions when she chose to paint Evan the way she did, but that sounds plausible! And, ah yes, I think I was just overwhelmed by Evan and Maise’s passionate and physical relationship being someone that reads generally tame, YA romances. 😅 Thank you for reading! 🙂

      Like

  5. SERIESous Book Reviews says:

    Don’t let this book give you the impression that all New Adult books are like this! Leah Raeder’s novels are definitely on the darker end of the NA spectrum. Black Iris was a really hard read for me pretty much for all the reasons you listed (so I would avoid that one if I was you ;)) but I’m really curious by the taboo relationship. I don’t mind darker reads so long as I am prepared and I think your review prepared me 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Since you seemed to love Vampire Academy as much as I did (and that features a student-teacher relationship, though not as extreme as painted in Unteachable) you may like Unteachable! I also know that you seem to like forbidden romances, so I think this may be for you, Lauren! Haha, thanks for the heads up. I’ve heard Cam Girl is pretty dark and provocative as well. So I’ll be give Raeder’s other books a skip for now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mariana | Book Is Glee says:

    Love your review, Summer! ❤ I’ve read this book quite a while ago, and I remember having conflict feelings for it like you too. I really enjoy the writing and characters, but somehow it doesn’t live up with the standard compare to other forbidden romance I’ve read, so it was not the best read for me too. I’m glad you’ve come around to read this book. The review is awesome! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah, thanks so much, Mariana! ❤ Unteachable wasn’t what I expected it to be. And I was a little overwhelmed by the physicality of Evan and Maise’s relationship so I couldn’t really enjoy it. 😅 However, I like the writing and characters immensely like you did. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Ashers! says:

    I’d never heard of this book before, and it sounds . . . yeah. Intriguing and promising, but (especially in light of that one detail that threw you off) deeply squicky. This review is excellent, though! =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you, Liam! 🙂 Ah yes, alas, this book just really wasn’t for me. The physicality of the couple’s passionate relationship sort of threw me off when I picked it up (since I tend to read a lot of tame, YA romances). 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Miguel @ The Quirky Reader says:

    I remember reading this book and I had the same reaction as yours. Though that time I’ve already read a few New Adult novels, I still wasn’t prepared for the provocative nature of Unteachable. But overall it was a really interesting reading experience for me (Leah’s writing style, the characters, the taboo plot etc.). And if I may suggest some NA authors worth checking out: Megan Erickson, AJ Pine, Lia Riley (my fave hehe) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah yes, the provocative nature of Unteachable made me a little overwhelmed being someone that tends to read much tamer romances. And thanks so much for the recommendations, Miguel! I’ll definitely being checking those authors’ works sometime. I’ve already taken a look at Lia Riley’s books; the Off the Map series sounds like something I’d love! 😀

      Like

  9. Carolyn says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOO A BOOK I RECOMMEND THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! jk
    I totally get what you mean about that one detail from Evan’s past; if I were Maise I’d be concerned lol and I just thought it was totally unnecessary and random to the story too :/
    And I guess my reading experience was a little different because I really liked the exploration of their emotional relationship with each other. I really liked how they fit well together because Maise felt like she was an older adult living in a young adult body and she found like a connection to Evan. And I really liked her journey about getting away from her town. I also really liked that I was rooting for them in spite of the taboo and they were a relatively drama-free couple
    I also really liked how little of the New Adult stereotypes exist in this book like there’s no slut-shaming, there’s no will-they-won’t they trope, no douchy alpha male love interest.
    Sorry I’m just rambling now but I do agree with you about the amount of sex scenes in the book like woah chill guys lol. But I feel like I wouldn’t have enjoyed half of those sex scenes if I weren’t emotionally attached to the characters already.
    Anyways, maybe you would like Maybe Someday more? I think that’s a better stepping stone to NA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      I KNOWWW. T.T I couldn’t believe it myself (after all the successes with A Little Life and The Winner’s trilogy). Sigh.
      And lol, I love how you basically summed up why you loved this book in this comment for me. XD I did like the paradoxical relationship Maise and Evan had (with her being more mature and him the opposite), but I guess I couldn’t get pass Evan’s past. He just became too creepy for me. And ooh, since I have no NA experience I wouldn’t have noticed the absence of those tropes. But I’d hate those… I guess I’m going have to tread carefully as I continue my reading NA journey. I do have a physical copy of Maybe Someday (and I think another CoHo title) on my TBR so I’ll try it eventually. My next NA read will probably be Raw Blue though since I’ve heard great things about that one. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carolyn says:

        That’s understandable. I can see how his past would be really creepy :/ And ooh let me know how it goes I’m always looking for new NA recommendations since I’m so picky about them lol
        And it’s ok one mistaken recommendation shouldn’t set me back haha. I will continue to fervently recommend you things.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thuong Le says:

    Aw, sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy Unteachable! I heard about this book a while back and I did wanted to read it but then later on I lost interest in it. Personally, I don’t like student-teacher relationships. I think they’re wrong on all levels and is not the least bit romantic at all but have to give props to the author for writing about it. I think its good to see that the main character isn’t a innocent ‘good girl’ character, so that’s refreshing but Maisie doesn’t sound likeable. I understand what you mean, too much provocative scenes can be off-putting. Yeah maybe Unteachable isn’t the right New Adult novel to read… you could try Colleen Hoover! I think I plan to read more of her books at some point. I haven’t had much luck with NA novels but I’m sure there are better ones out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah yes, Unteachable probably wasn’t the best stepping stone into NA. I don’t really like provocative and graphic books since I read a lot of tame romances. I could appreciate the characterization and interesting take on the taboo relationship, but I really see what you mean! I think the only time I’ve read a student/teacher relationship prior to this one was in Vampire Academy. And I didn’t really mind it since I never viewed Dimitri as a true teacher. Or at least Rose and Dimitri’s relationship wasn’t creepy to me. This one felt so wrong because of the guy… But anyway, I’m not losing hope yet! I’ll try some CoHo and I plan to read Raw Blue (by Kristy Eagar) soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah, thank you, Poulami! Yes, this probably wasn’t the best book as my first NA read. But I think fans of NA will love it because it does have a thought provoking romance and complex characters! It just wasn’t for me, that’s all. :3

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Analee @ Book Snacks says:

    Oh no, such a shame that this book ended up being more on the negative side of things for you! Especially since you don’t venture much into the NA genre. I haven’t read this book–and I doubt I will (anytime soon, at least). Although I have read several NA books in the past, I don’t really tend to gravitate towards the genre, and I have a feeling this book won’t suit me much. But anyway, loved this review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah, thanks so much, Analee! (By the way, I’ve missed seeing you in the blogosphere!) I think it’s too early for me to rule out NA completely, but I’m bummed that my first experience wasn’t that great. A lot of people have recommended Colleen Hoover so I’ll try her next (or maybe Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar since I’ve heard fab things on that one, too). Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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