Eighteen-year-old Layken is less than thrilled when her mother moves the family to Michigan after the death of their father. She’s trying her best to put on a brave face and support her mother in raising her younger brother, but she’s losing hope. Things begin to look up upon arriving to her new home and meeting 21-year old neighbor Will Cooper. Their connection is immediate and Layken is drawn to his intriguing passion for slam poetry and his easygoing manner. After an intense first date that has Layken feeling like things could be okay in her new home, Will and Layken are shaken to the core to find out that he is her teacher. Their daily interactions become pained as they struggle to reconcile the intense feelings they have for one another and the situation that must keep them apart.
This story is so much more than a student-teacher romance. It is a heart-wrenching and honest portrayal of two people immediately drawn to one another in an intense way. What makes this book so different is the absolutely heartbreaking, tragic pasts of both of these lead characters, and the intensity that lends to the romance. Layken is looking for something to cling to after losing her father, and when Will steps into her life and shows her passion, it is easy to see how she might fall for him. As her family life spins out of control, it becomes eerily clear that Will is the one person in her life that might truly understand what she is facing, since Will’s family life mirrors so much of Layken’s.
I loved these characters so much. Layken is a refreshing young adult main character who, despite her incredibly horrible circumstances, is never whiny or hard to like. With every curveball that is thrown her way, I rooted for her and desperately wanted a good resolution for her. Will is also refreshing in that he is smart and honest, battling the desire to do right and still love Layken. Their love is intense and powerful, and such a joy to read.
This book takes all of the complex and heartbreaking realities of a student-teacher romance and ups the ante with lead characters who have truly tragic Problems. I’m talking about Problems with a capital P. Their love is intense and the realities of being together isn’t easy, but together they find a way to make it work.