Book Review: Unteachable by Elliot Wake (written as Leah Raeder)


ashley | I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from new books and read through my backlog of books that fell under my radar or I never got around to reading at the time, but always meant to. Leah Raeder, now Elliot Wake, has topped my to-read list for a while. I’ve seen some amazing reviews for each book and I’ve always meant to come back to them, so I finally decided to pick up Unteachable, which seemed like the best place to start and seemed to have the most praise. I couldn’t wait to see what all the buzz was about.

This NA genre is new to me. It wasn’t until I started reading this that I realized what I was getting into. To be blunt, there was a lot of sex, which is usually something I steer away from, not because I can’t appreciate it, but because I feel a lot of the time it’s used very gratuitously and frankly, I need a bit more substance. But, Unteachable left me breathless. I wasn’t expecting such a potent read. The descriptions were so vivid, the lust and longing were so real, this stirred up so many different emotions in me, it was almost overwhelming.

The relationship between Maise and Evan, whatever you may feel about the circumstances, that aside, it wasn’t just some obsessive kid lusting over an older man, it wasn’t something trying to be edgy or push the envelope for a response, there was an actual connection, there was self-awareness and sexual awareness and it was all so well written and maturely handled.  I loved this immediately.

I also loved how it was written. You pick up quickly on the direction things are heading, but the book doesn’t take you for a fool, it knows you’ll pick up on it and even though Maise hasn’t yet, the book alludes to it anyway. The tone speaks in an overview hindsight, questioning whether things would be different had Maise known what we were seeing, would she had made different choices? I loved this. It was smart. It made me feel smart. It made me feel like it respected me as a reader. The book was so potent it made me feel like we were actually communicating. That is what this did to me, how much it pulled me in.

I get the impression that Unteachable is kind of the best of the best of this new genre. And honestly I’m not sure it’s something I want to explore to the depths, but Wake, writing as Raeder, wowed me.  The prose is beautiful, the story was complex and dark and though sometimes certain scenes started to exist just for the entertainment factor, every part of this made me feel like I was bursting with a new, unexplainable realization. I definitely want to read more from this writer, I’m just not sure I can handle it.


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march 24, 2014