21 January 2015

Teach Me by Sloan Johnson

 Two words stripped Austin Pritchard of the privileged life he’s used to. The moment he uttered the words, “I’m gay,” he realized there is no such thing as unconditional love. Now, he’s gone from traveling the world with his family to living on the streets trying to figure out how he’s going to stay in school.

A chance opportunity changes everything. Austin impresses the foreman and lands a job, but even more, he catches the eye of David Becker, who is determined to teach him that true love doesn’t come with strings.

The only thing David had as a child was love. His family struggled to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. That has driven him to stay focused on his goals; become a tenured professor at a university and save enough money to build a home of his own. It’s not until he sees an insecure college student working on his new house that he realizes that he hasn’t planned on someone to share his life with. He’s about to learn that everything he’s already accomplished is nothing compared to the task of making Austin see that he is worthy of love.
This is a story about a young college student, Austin and an older man David. Austin has just come out to his family and returned to school in shame. After finishing the semester and while waiting in vain for his parents to pick him up he soon realizes that no one is coming. And his family has disowned him, jobless, penniless and no options for the summer he packs what he think he will need and leaves the rest in his dorm room and heads out into the night. Walking the streets he runs into Bree and Clay, both homeless young adults and are willing to help him navigate the streets and his new life. David is moving back to the area, now that he has secured a teaching position and is having a house built.  Austin has been hired on that construction site, but will the attraction be enough? Or will Austin immaturity drive them apart?

So this was my first Sloan Johnson book, and I was really looking forward to it but I’m not a fan of YA and Austin was just too young mentally and physical for me. I understand his antics is what drove the story, but at some point, enough. Kudos’s to David for putting up with it. I liked the fact that even though Austin was given a raw deal, he never thought about dropping out of school, although I’m not sure how realistic that is/was? I did like the writing style and plan on picking up more of SJ books; I’ll just be more careful and stick to older characters (if she has any?)
As a reviewer, maybe I should stop having high hopes for books. The ones I have the highest hopes on seem to crash and burn. The premise behind Teach Me captivated me. Austin was thrown out of his family because he came out of the closet. Forced to live on the streets, he does everything he can to keep going to college. David is a professor who finds Austin working on his house one day and has an undeniable attraction.

If it weren’t for a few problems, this could have been one of my favorite books. I adored Austin. He really worked hard to overcome the crap his father forced on him for so many years. David was sweet, if a bit dense at times, just wanting to show Austin that leaning on someone isn’t a bad thing. Unfortunately, their chemistry and attraction couldn’t make it through the bumps I kept hitting.

The author interchangeably used present and past tense, which really throws a story off. There were very few typos or grammatical errors, so that was good. But there were some very confusing things in the story. For instance: time jumps without giving us a clue there’s been a jump. One moment they’ve been dating a month, the next suddenly they’ve been together 2 months without anything really giving us an indication of the change. And at one point they were 2 weeks into Austin’s term at school (where David is substitute teaching a sociology course Austin is attending – but only for a couple weeks) and then WHAM! Suddenly they were 6 weeks in without explaining why David was still teaching his class? As such, their leaps forward in the story and in their relationship felt strange. As if we, the readers, were missing 75% of the story.

What was there was good, but because of what was missing, I can only give the story 2 stars. I kind of hope the author re-writes it, filling in the gaps and bringing it back all new and pristine with all the gaps filled in. If they do, I would definitely want to re-read and re-review.


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