Happy Thursday, guys!
I've always been a little wary of the idea of the teacher/student romance in fiction, so it was with a bit of surprise, that I found myself touched and intrigued by Even When You Lie to me, during the summer.
So when I heard about Consent, I was kind of hoping for an equally provocative and thought-provoking novel. Unfortunately, Nancy's Ohlin's work fell short.
Expected publication: November 10th 2015 by Simon Pulse
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
However, the story is ultimately undermined by her resolution for the characters.
Bea has a secret.
Actually, she has more than one. There’s her dream for the future that she can’t tell anyone—not her father and not even her best friend, Plum.
And now there’s Dane Rossi. Dane is hot, he shares Bea’s love of piano, and he believes in her.
He’s also Bea’s teacher.
When their passion for music crosses into passion for each other, Bea finds herself falling completely for Dane. She’s never felt so wanted, so understood, so known to her core. But the risk of discovery carries unexpected surprises that could shake Bea entirely. Bea must piece together what is and isn’t true about Dane, herself, and the most intense relationship she’s ever experienced in this absorbing novel from Nancy Ohlin, the author of Beauty.
However, this book wasn't really my cup of tea. While Nancy Ohlin does a fine job of setting up the premise of the relationship, eventual revelations basically ended up undermining the rest of the book.
Things that worked:
From the very first page, Ohlin makes it clear that Bea is an outsider in her own life. Her father is distant and cold, her brother is unavailable, and Bea has felt an unwavering sense of guilt in the belief that she cost her mother her life.
Ohlin does a masterful job of showing just all the various ways that Bea has been isolated from feeling love and companionship from the world around her, and how she would very obviously seek out any hint of interest from anyone who chose to offer it. It's a perfect set-up for her to be intrigued by the attention from Dane.
Similarly, Ohlin clearly establishes the intellectual longing and emotional confusion being experienced by Dane. He's clearly someone who's intelligent, but also feels lost in life. It's not too surprising to see just how he would immediately latch onto someone who has the same intellectual interest as him.
As awkward as it was to read at times, Ohlin creates an initially nuanced and logical progression of the relationship that develops between Bea and Dean. We see how they're initially drawn together as two individuals who have unique interests for the world around them, and how it eventually progresses into something more.
It's not just driven by hormones or the intrigue of a forbidden relationship, but more by the idea that Bea and Danve have mutually found someone who understands a shared passion - music. Moreover, there's something very sensual about developing an attraction through Bea's playing, which Ohlin explores nicely.
While I WAS a little weirded out by some of the more explicit scenes, I can figure out why Ohlin chose to have those scenes develop the way that they did.
The deeper issues
While I don't agree with how Ohlin explored the ramifications of the relationship and Dane preying on Bea, I can still appreciate her resolution for the characters. It doesn't really delve into just how wrong the relationship was to begin with, but does leave Bea stronger in the end with hopefully, a happy ending.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
As strange as this may sound, I was disappointed that Ohlin chose to reveal the true nature of Dean's predatory tendencies in the third act.
Ultimately, I think that decision undermined the initial premise of Bea and Dean being drawn together on a collison course, because of situation and circumstance. In many ways, the third act cheapened the relationship, and made the relationship come off as exactly what people believe about relationships like these.
Nancy Ohlin's initial premise of trying to show how a vulnerable, isolated teenager can become involved with someone who feels just as lost, was intriguing and nuanced. Ohlin makes decent points on emotional vulnerability and the ease of which that can be exploited by both parties in a relationship.
However, by reducing the Bea to nothing more than another notch on a predator's belt, the story becomes nothing more than a cautionary tale, and renders it down to another stereotype in the student/teacher
I had high hopes for this book, but ultimately, cannot recommend.