Title: The Truth About You and Me
Author: Amanda Grace
Publication Date: September 8, 2013
Smart girls aren’t supposed to do stupid things.
Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she’s so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennett. He’s cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she’s endured – and missed out on – in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she’s falling in love.
There’s only one problem. Bennett is Madelyn’s college professor, and he thinks she’s eighteen – because she hasn’t told him the truth.
The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennett – both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
I had nothing but problems with this book. I thought I was going to like it because I enjoy forbidden relationship stories. Romance between cousins? Sure. Incest? Hit me. (References: How I Live Now and Forbidden). But this book? Heck no.
I didn’t just have a problem with the way the relationship was portrayed. I also had issues with the writing. For a sixteen-year-old student who was supposed to be so advanced and intelligent, her writing skills were somewhat lacking. The book read like it was supposed to be for a younger audience than sixteen, and Madelyn came off as very childish. That may have been the point of the book, but the author also tried to portray her as some kind of seductress, so the whole thing left me feeling kind of confused.
In addition, I realize Amanda Grace may have been trying to get readers to see the other side of the story (as in Bennett’s), but I just felt wrong about him the whole time. There is nothing redeeming about a teacher who sleeps with a student, even if it is supposedly consensual. Relationships between students and teachers can never be truly consensual because it’s impossible to give true consent to an authority figure. People can agree to these relationships out of fear or other reasons. Even though Madelyn claimed she was in love, Bennett should never have engaged in a relationship with her. The age difference doesn’t matter either. No matter if the difference is ten years or three, student/teacher relationships can’t be consensual.
I also didn’t feel Bennett was as innocent as the author tried to portray. If he really wanted to know how old Madelyn was, he could have easily found out. Or, if not easily, he would have been willing to put in the effort to investigate. His only saving grace was that he had the appropriately horrified reaction when he realized Madelyn was sixteen. However, he would have known that before if he’d pressed her for more information. But, again, in a student/teacher relationship, age difference doesn’t matter because you can’t truly give consent to someone who has power over you.
The only good thing about this book was that it was short. So, if you decide to power through Madelyn’s gross fawning over Bennett, the idiocy of him, and the fact that this book pretty much has no likeable characters, at least it’ll be over with soon. Yay.