Title: Even When You Lie to Me
Author: Jessica Alcott
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Have you ever had a crush on a teacher? A college professor? I'll be the first to admit to you all that I've definitely had quite a few, especially in my younger years. And for me, it was always the artsy types. The English teachers, who loved words as much as I did. It was safe, because it was a mere fantasy that would never happen. But this book completely takes it to the next level, and the result is searing, uncomfortable, sexually charged, honest.
The main character, Charlie, is not the pretty girl. In fact, the only reason that people in her school seem to halfway tolerate her is her gorgeous, charismatic best friend, Lila. Bookish, shy, and awkward, she knows that she doesn't fit in with her classmates. She meets her new English teacher, Mr. Drummond, who seems to truly, honestly understand her, as a person and as a young woman. I really could relate to Charlie, especially when we're talking about years in high school--insecure and bookish, unable to really fit in. It hurt me, often, to read just how much she was hurting, because I'd been in that same position before, wondering when I would blossom into someone worth knowing, worth caring about. (And I still struggle with that to this day.)
The affair that follows is, for most of the book, sexual tension, culminating in a hot encounter at her teacher's apartment. I'm not going to lie: there are parts of this book that were really hard to get through, even though the narration was absolutely hypnotic. I could see that Drummond was preying on Charlie's innocence, but I have to admit, their toxic sort of chemistry was one that I couldn't look away from. I also really enjoyed the way Alcott portrayed Charlie's budding sexuality--it was really frank, and honestly refreshing.
This book was hard to get through, but regardless, I enjoyed it. It was, at its core, at least to me, a coming of age story. The only thing that really could've been done better was the affair's impact on Mr. Drummond--I would've liked to see him punished in some way, and not just by Charlie. The bottom line: A searing and honest look at sexuality and what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, Even When You Lie to Me opened my eyes in the best kind of way. Next on deck: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus!