Bibliographic information: Teach Me. R. A. Nelson. Rasorbill, 2005. $8.99. 264p. ISBN-13: 978-1428721142.
Summary: Carolina, aka Nine, is a mature, intelligent seventeen year old girl who doesn’t need anybody, well except for her best friend Schuyler that is, and has no interests in getting into a relationship at all. It is the start of a new semester at school and that means all new classes. Nine has decided to branch out from her usual science and math classes in hopes of sprucing things up a bit, not just material wise, but people wise. Everybody takes the same classes and she is tired of the same old people all the time. So she is taking a poetry class, and there is going to be a new teacher for it this year, she hopes that he is competent. She enters the class and waits for the new teacher, then in strolls the new teacher, he walks straight to the board and writes his name is big letters, “Mr. Mann,” he turns around and exudes confidence, slaps a sheet on the overhead projector, and waits. Nine is captivated and taken in by this teacher, something she was not expecting. She is first to answer his questions and that was her first clue that something was different about this teacher.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 14 and up IL: 9-12 grade
Review: Nine challenges society’s, as well as her own, beliefs in what is right and wrong when it comes to student-teacher relationships. Most people would balk at hearing about a high school student and teacher participating in an intimate relationship. I have to admit I am one of them, but I stuck through to the end and what helped was Nelson’s writing that is so advanced, and it flows right off your tongue. But in the end it was clear that students and teachers shouldn’t get into intimate relationships because it causes a lot of issues. The novel is set up not so much in chapters, but more like sections that each has an inventive title of foreshadowing of what is to come. With a lot of heartbreak and broken rules this novel leaves the reader pondering what is right and wrong.
Readers’ annotation: Have you ever had a crush on a teacher of yours? Have you ever wondered if it would become something more than a one-sided crush? Nine never thought it possible, until she met Mr. Mann.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book includes a forbidden love between a student and her poetry teacher. Many high school students might have crushes on a teacher of theirs that is particularly attractive, but it is a good idea to not pursue your interests because it will just end in heartache and tragedy. That is what this book is telling its readers and I think it would be helpful to all of those teens who have such feelings, as well as teachers who may think they feel something for a student.
Issues present: This book has a student-teacher relationship. Some parents may not appreciate this novel because of the student teacher relationship that takes place. But it leaves a lasting effect on the reader, and the message is pretty clear that you shouldn’t get involved in these kinds of relationships or you will end up getting the both of you in trouble.
Booktalk ideas: Nine has fallen in love with her poetry teacher.
Introduce Nine’s character
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: student/teacher relationships.
Readalikes: Boy Toy, The Chosen One
Author’s website: http://www.ranelsonbooks.com/
Awards: Booksense Fall Kids Pick (2006), TeenReads.com Best Book (2005), NYPL Books Nominee for the Teen Age (2006)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-66597396.xml; Booklist’s review can be found at Amazon unless you have an account with them: http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Me-R-A-Nelson/dp/1595140840%3FSubscriptionId%3D106X52NM3EWD7WK6H682%26tag%3Dbooklistonlin-20%26linkCode%3Dsp1%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D1595140840
Why I chose it: I heard of this book in one of my other semesters when I was doing a project for a class. Nelson’s writing is one of the best I have read for a young adult novel in a long time.