It’s not often that a book surprises me, and leaves me wrapped up in my covers like a “burrito of sadness”, but Me And Mr J by Rachel McIntyre did just that. And psst, the UK paperback is only £1.39 more than the ebook!
Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.
Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.
And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?
I think I need to start this review by saying that I had not read the synopsis before reading this book. All I knew was that it was YA with student/teacher elements. I was honestly expecting a light and fluffy, student/teacher romance. I’m still trying to process what happened, and where my thoughts are at right now.
Books are usually pretty predictable, so I was confident that this would be an easy read about love between a girl of around 17, and her young, gorgeous, student teacher. But how wrong was I. This book got me at every turn.
Me And Mr J, is written in the form of a diary by 15 year old, Lara. I also need to state that this is a book set in England, where our various age laws are much different to those in the US. With 15 being a few years younger than I was expecting to read about, I was in two minds over what I thought of the writing style.
Quirky and endearing? Or young and immature? To be honest, I think that it was maybe a bit both, but as the book went on, I could see the growth in both the character, and the authors writing. I initially thought the book funny, but it wasn’t long before it took a turn that had me equal parts gripped and unnerved.
It was surprisingly (for me) a pretty hard book to read at times. It had a large focus on something that is very personal to me, and I had to take a few breaks from reading to get myself together. It’s definitely not a book to take lightly.
And under all the seriousness, struggles, and heartache, there IS a romance. Not exactly your most conventional, but a romance nonetheless. I loved Ben (Mr J) and – the then 16 year old – Lara, and I would love for the author to revisit them 5-10 years down the line, to see if anything had changed for them.
Prepare for all kinds of feels with this witty, poignant novel about first love, and the horrific life of a teenage outcast.
*ARC received in exchange for an honest review*