Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
People are abuzz about Fifty Shades of Grey when Rebecca Coleman's novel is quite possibly even steamier and riskier. This novel tackles a subject that is both intriguing, mystifying and totally mind boggling to me. It's quite a taboo subject for the rest of the world, but I personally love to read novels with taboo topics. Teacher/Student sexual relationships are a no-no in today's culture, but this novel takes the topic head on.
The Good: This book will warp itself inside of you if you let it. I did. It was amazing what happened when I let the world Coleman created sink into my skin, my bones. I felt the words seep through me and I could NOT put this book down. The novel started off with breath taking imagery of Germany and a little background on Judy, the main character. Once the main story started to play out I was immediately pulled in. I wanted to hate the book because the subject matter was grotesque and so abnormal but it was like a train wreck I couldn't tear my eyes from. This is the type of book that makes you reconsider what you thought you knew or what you thought your beliefs were. Before I started this novel, I had a basic but firm belief about statutory rape and teacher/students sexual relationships. But after reading this novel, I'm realizing the lines between right and wrong are so completely blurry. Not saying that I condone the behavior because I certainly do not, but I can't 100% say that my views on it are the same as before. Life is crazy and messy and stuff happens and sometimes people make colossally bad choices and continue to do so, maybe its a tiny sickness that perpetuates it but what I'm saying is that not everything is black and white or exactly as we see it. The Waldorf school was an intriguing backdrop, I'd never heard of it before and promptly researched the hell out if it before completing the novel. After my research, I realized how well Coleman wrote the Waldorf culture into her novel. She expertly matched the good/bad aspects of the culture and it felt like the most natural place for the characters. I loved being able to get both Judy and Zach's perspective and it made it a little easier to understand and see how these type of affairs get started. It was weird because part of me hoped Judy wouldn't get arrested or caught but then another part of me did. I cant explain why, but this book just made me feel a million conflicting emotions. Judy and Zach's lust is so palpable, I almost dont blame them for what their doing yet they both know its wrong and they both continue to do it and ahhh! The confliction is driving me crazy. Judy's obsession with fire was interesting and I loved that the theme rippled through the entire book. There wasn't much I disliked about this book. I even liked the way it made me feel uncomfortable because that's hard to do.
I think about the only thing I disliked was some of the background chapters in germany. I liked the intro to Judy and the whole father/nanny relationship background but there was a whole slew of things that could have been cut out and pared down. Also the ambulance scene was a little unrealistic, wouldn't Scott have called his mom even if they weren't on the best terms, and wouldn't the cops have questioned Judy a little more than they did? It seemed like the scene was just a filler to get rid of Judy's husband. We don't know how she lost her job either...I would have liked to see that cleared up a little bit.
As you can tell from my jumbled review that I really really really loved this novel and it's hard to get all my feelings down in one place. I give this book an A!
**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.