Saturday, February 27, 2016

Unreachable by Katie Leone

Title: Unreachable
Author: Katie Leone
Purchase at Amazon 
Cover Artist:  Unknown
Genre:  social issues/gender issues/not romance
Length: 436 pages
Formats:  mobi, print

They say no student is beyond reach – he’s out to prove them wrong.

Janice Rosenthal is entering her eighth year of teaching, but it might be her last. Never before has she had a student as unruly and insubordinate as this one. Andrew Bryant is the terror of seventh grade, a student known for driving teachers to the edge of retirement, and he is in her class.

How can Janice--and the rest of her students--make it through the school year with such a disruptive force in the classroom? Her only hope is to try to break through the orphan's defenses, to pierce a wall that no other teacher has ever scratched.

When she discovers Andrew's secret, two lives will be changed forever. 

Bookbub brings me some interesting things. I’m not sure I would have found this otherwise, though I am glad I did.

Unreachable is told from the adult’s POV, and this is a story of Janice Rosenthal’s growing up as much as it is about her student. Even after eight years of teaching, or maybe because of them, Janice starts out making some assumptions about one of her students and how things will work out with Andrew in the class.

Andrew has the reputation of being difficult, unreachable, someone to teach around and hope for minimum disruption for the rest of the class. It turns out that each infraction has something legitimate and redeeming behind it, and their encounters force Janice to reevaluate herself and her assumptions.

The intertwining of student and teacher’s growth is mostly lovely, although I think Janice should have been a little less emphatic in her assumptions, because frankly declaring that someone is trans* is a darned big leap, and isn’t it the person’s choice to say or not? But forgive it (a little) for the sake of speeding the narrative.

Speeding the narrative is a good idea—while the story could stand to shed about 15k words, it is a powerful story shot with hope and eventually with love, and it needed to be told. Andrew starts as a kid with every hand raised against them, and while the arc is not yet done, this book ends with the acceptance of true self and an adult’s love and protection.

The novel is occasionally difficult reading, detailing the challenges of teaching in a poor, urban environment. The portrayal of the foster system is bleak and probably accurate for all its horror, a system trying to make do with inadequate resources and some really hideous people.

There’s a second novel following on from where this leaves off, and while I’m not up for an immediate second serving of this author’s style, I plan to read it. 4 marbles

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