Monday, January 16, 2017

Now I Know It's Not My Fault (review)

I'm hoping to have a couple of book reviews for you this week, but let's start this week with one that was a bit of a heart heavy read, scary for any parent to read.

Now I Know It's Not My Fault - Laurie B. Levine
Alexandra Geller is a bright, underachieving fourteen-year-old coming of age in the big hair 1980’s. Alex is from an accomplished, well-educated family. The sudden death of her mother five years ago, and her relationship with her well-meaning but emotionally unavailable father, leaves her unmoored and vulnerable as she tries to figure out who she is. Early in her freshman year, she’s befriended by Paula Hanover, a young, attractive science teacher at her high school. Paula’s irreverence and charm attracts the attention of the girls, who look up to her, and the boys, who have crushes on her. Alex is thrilled to be chosen by this woman and relishes the feeling of finally “belonging” to a mother figure. Paula’s intentions aren’t so benevolent, as she slowly and carefully draws Alex into a relationship designed to meet her own needs, not Alex’s. Desperate for maternal attention, Alex finds ways to ignore the vague sense that something is wrong. Her compelling story sheds light on a common, but rarely talked about kind of trauma which is subtle, and occurs under the radar.

You know I'm not one to sugar coat a review, so don't expect me to change that in 2017. I'm just going to get my issues out right at the front: the cover doesn't pull you in, the time setting of the 80's is outdated and makes the book feel like it isn't relative to modern times I'm a stickler and I found a few grammar errors that make the book feel like it got the quick edit and made it distracting for me. 

But if you can get past that, the story is really compelling. We have Alex, who is going through high school and she's got a lot of home issues she's battling at the same time. I'll tell you I picked this book because the premise of a girl having a mother who has passed away and an unemotional father is something that my kids almost could identify with. Reading this was straight up scary because you realize that some children are basically targets for predators of all kinds, and it doesn't necessarily mean a sexual relationship. This book explores the world of emotional and mental manipulation and what that can do to a child who is desperate for positive attention. 

It's immediately obvious that the teacher, Paula, is inappropriate towards students and looks to more of a friend rather an authority figure. She wants to be seen as cool versus there to further their education. She seemingly can pick out the students who need the "extra" attention and she is a classic groomer of these kids for not just her abuse, but sets them up for a future of abusive relationships. Just like other books that explore the sometimes abuse between children and an authority figure, so many in Alex's life essentially fail her and she's forced to stick up for herself, hard for even adults to do. The book is around 330 pages, but I didn't find it to be a quick read. For me it was easy to put down and pick something else up, but then I'd come back to this one because I wanted to know what was going to happen with Alex. Overall, I would give this book 3/5 stars. 

*I received a copy of this book for an honest review*

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