4.5/5 stars. Might be considered a bit spoilery...
At the root of this book is a very controversial idea - a high school student and teacher falling in love. And while many (including myself) view this as completely taboo, I can appreciate that most teachers are in their early to mid twenties when they start, and high school kids can be 18. That's not a huge age difference. (In a TMI aside, I became great friends w/ a new teacher at my high school in my senior year, and he was HOT. He wasn't my teacher, and I definitely wouldn't have ...more4.5 stars. At the root of this book is a very controversial idea - a high school student and teacher falling in love. And while many (including myself) view this as completely taboo, I can appreciate that most teachers are in their early to mid twenties when they start, and high school kids can be 18. That's not a huge age difference. (In a TMI aside, I became great friends w/ a new teacher at my high school in my senior year, and he was HOT. He wasn't my teacher though, and I definitely wouldn't have minded something happening, although it never did. As far as I know, it was completely one-sided on my part).
Annie was an 18 year old senior when she fell in love with her English teacher, 24 year old Dylan. He returned the emotion, but refused to act on it. When Annie pushed him to act, he left his job and moved away in order to keep his integrity intact. The story takes place 20 years later, when they meet again. Dylan is interviewing for the high school principal position, and Annie is now the English teacher. Dylan is unaware of what his leaving did to Annie, and she is too scared to take the risk of loving him again, having lost him once, and having subsequently lost her husband in Iraq. Plus, she has twin 8 year old sons to look after.
Kathryn Shay never shies away from tough or controversial subject matter. I thought all the issues in this book were handled with care, and ably so. She made both characters immensely appealing, so I was really rooting for them to make it work. It was as difficult for the reader to find a way out of their predicament as it was for Annie and Dylan. But Shay comes up with the perfect (and only, IMO) solution available to them.
The only things that keep this from being a 5 star read for me are the overtly jealous and almost evil former classmate of Annie's, and wondering why Annie was so adamant about staying in a town where she was faced with such animosity from some folks. I think had the book been a little longer, this may have been addressed, but a revelation on why it was so important to her would have helped me to understand.
Plus, there is that uncomfortable feeling of reading about a taboo subject and finding yourself feeling ok about it. That was very strange. It was only that Dylan refused to acknowledge his feelings for Annie to her back in the day and left town in order to keep from acting on those feelings that give credibility to the plot. It was handled in about the only way Shay could have to make it acceptable. And she does, amazingly.
Looking forward to book 2.
I liked this book, but not quite as much as the first, Still The One. As always, there are hot issues of the day to address; in this book it is the son of the mayor who is the star football player and also a cutter.
Nick was the best friend of Brie's husband. He passed away, leaving her heartbroken. Nick and Brie never really got along, even while Jared was still alive.
They disagree on a lot of things, one of which how to deal with Matt. Nick is trying to do his best for Matt on the down low, while Brie thinks that it should be reported so that Matt can get more help and have everything documented.
Through their interactions with Matt, Brie and Nick come to realize there is a huge attraction between them. Brie learns to like Nick. A lot. And what's not to like? He is handsome, smart, thoughtful, and really, truly wants to do the best he can for his students.
I thought Brie came across as a bit abrasive, but not unlikable. She jumped to conclusions and acted sometimes without thinking of the consequences. Having said that, she learns through the course of the book that her way may not always be the best way, and really comes to appreciate Nick for who he is.
I thought the love story happened a little quickly, but there was a long history between Brie and Nick, so although there was the 'getting to know the real you' issue, they already were well acquainted and both in a position to have a new start to their relationship.
The story surrounding Matt is heartbreaking; one I'm sure is not unique at all. His father ignores him, speaking to him only to criticize. He's stuck playing a sport he doesn't even want to play, and he's tied in knots trying to come to terms with his mother's death.
Matt's father almost made the transition into sympathetic, but fell short. He comes across as a hard, unforgiving man, unable and unwilling to connect with his son because he represents a loss he doesn't want to think about.
As with the last book, there was only one plausible way that the resolution to Matt's situation could happen, and it was because he turned 18, and was able to make some decisions for himself.
Another solid read from Shay. Really looking forward to the next book.