Author: Amanda Grace
Publication: 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 Bennet. 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. Bennet 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 Bennet - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
Thank you Netgalley and Flux for this eARC.
I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish this book and then spent the next three hours staring at my ceiling while I tried to work out my feelings because this left me heartbroken, conflicted and frustrated.
What I liked: The cover, the unique letter-style writing and the complex relationship that unfolded. My first thought was, this is a Dateline Special waiting to happen. After awhile though, I found myself almost wanting to root for Maddie and Bennet's HEA - almost.
Maddie is a smart girl but she's young. Always pushing a child to be "more" has a way of aging a kid and it can be very easy to forget that they are still in fact, a kid. When she meets Bennet it's almost love at first sight for her and she proceeds to swoon and fantasize a relationship with him all the while knowing it's not possible. She has several opportunities to tell the truth but she never does, choosing instead to pursue Bennet.
Society, as well as Dateline producers and the police, would be quick to place 100% of the blame on Bennet because he is the adult after all. Yes, he should've pushed for more specific information from Maddie and yes, he could've checked with the school to be sure of her age and yes, he could've distanced himself on the sole principle that he was breaking the rules by fraternizing with a student. In his defense though, he was teaching a college class which is usually made up of college age aka adult students - usually.
I think the biggest difference between Maddie and Bennet wasn't their age, but the worlds they were living in. Where Maddie was living in a fantasy made up of love, romance and happily-ever-afters, Bennet was living in the real world where he was very familiar with the highs and lows of adult relationships. (This doesn't mean that my heart didn't break for these characters, or that I didn't wish circumstances couldn't somehow change in their favor, i.e., Maddie's age progression.)
One of the BEST things about this book is that Grace shows the serious and very real consequences for the choices Maddie and Bennet make.
What left me wanting: This is one of those books where you know going in that it can only end badly but you can't seem to put it down.
Final verdict: Complex, gritty and heartbreaking.
Review also posted at YABC.