Oct 10, 2013

UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder (Review & Interview with Author)

Hello guys,

~ I'm Beatrix, new member here, first I'd like to thank my girls - Glass, Red, Iva and PurpleBook for kindly inviting me to join. It's really exciting to be a part of this!
This is my first official post and I'm really excited that it's about a book I really loved! Even more great is that the author herself accepted to answer some of my questions about the book. 
So, read my review and short interview, tell me your opinion about the book or just comment whatever. 
It's nice to meet y'all!

New Adult contemporary romance

Buy the book:


Book Summary

I met him at a carnival, of all corny places. The summer I turned eighteen, in that chaos of neon lights and cheap thrills, I met a man so sweet, so beautiful, he seemed to come from another world. We had one night: intense, scary, real. Then I ran, like I always do. Because I didn’t want to be abandoned again.
But I couldn’t run far enough.
I knew him as Evan that night. When I walked into his classroom, he became Mr. Wilke.

My teacher.

I don’t know if what we’re doing is wrong. The rules say one thing; my heart says screw the rules. I can’t let him lose his job. And I can’t lose him.
In the movies, this would have a happy ending. I grow up. I love, I lose, I learn. And I move on. But this is life, and there’s no script. You make it up as you go along.

And you don’t pray for a happy ending. You pray for it to never end.

My rating:

5 stars


One big WOW! This book consumed me so much, I simply could not put it down. I just kept reading and reading until I finished it, and now that I finished it, I'm just thinking about it..

    ~That’s all life is. Breathing in, breathing out. The space between two breaths.

The main reason why this book is so captivating is writing style, and here the praises go to the author - Leah Raeder! Dear, dearest Leah, please never stop writing and creating, because you are the creator.
Really, it's been a while since I've read a book so beautifully written. So poetic and magical, she takes ordinary things and describes them in such a lovely manner, it's like she sees the world through different eyes.
And the FEELINGS. That is why I read books, and this book made me feel everything, oh how I wish for more books like this one. I don't usually read the same book twice, but I will definitely be reading this one; simply because of the fear I missed something, to re-read those wonderful sentences, to feel again!

    ~You should love something while you have it, love it fully and without reservation, even if you know you'll lose it someday. We lose everything. If you're trying to avoid loss, there's no point in taking another breath, or letting your heart beat one more time. It all ends.

Now as for the theme, I've read plenty of books dealing with teacher/student relationships, but this one is by far the best, it deals with the taboo well, and it tries to portray the very essence of such relationships.
The characters are very real,I liked both Maise and Evan (at the beginning they kinda reminded me of Rose and Dimitri from VA, but only at first when they met). I loved secondary charactes as well, especially Wes, and the sub-plot with Gary.
This book filled me with so many feelings, it's like now that I've read it I see things a bit differently, I see more beauty, I see that world can be a beautiful place when you're happy, I should try living like Maise more often, enjoying every moment, because in the end those moments are all we have.

    ~I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy, but no one's letting me in on the secret.

 This is a story with plenty of romance, humour, sex, life lessons, heartache, but it's mostly about life and love, and Ms. Raeder thank you, once again and I can't wait for your next book!

    ~I see the lights every night. It seems like the whole world has figured out how to be happy, but no one's letting me in on the secret.



I just want to say, before we start, that I’m a big fan, this is my first interview and I secretly admire you; first your work, then your passion for reading, because I believe in order to be a (good) writer, first you must be a reader too.

Thanks so much for interviewing me. And I absolutely agree: good writers are good readers. You have to immerse yourself in the type of work you plan to do, get to know it intimately, understand all of the conventions, tropes, and cliches. How can you avoid genre cliches if you don't even know what they are?

1. Unteachable is your first novel, did you expect this sort of reaction from people and what were your expectations in general? Did you have a purpose when writing this book?

It's actually my third. I've written about my struggle to get traditionally published, and my decision to self-publish, here. Long story short: Unteachable was a final attempt at making a living as a writer. I'd been rejected for years, and it seemed I was never going to sell a book. So I decided to write the story I'd wanted to write for ages without caring how "marketable" it would be. I've always been obsessed with teacher/student romances, and I've been dying for one that completely embraces the taboo: big age difference, high school setting, and no pulling punches about how the forbiddenness turns them on. Many other teacher/student books minimize and downplay those elements. I wrote my own, and confronted those issues head-on.

I'd hoped, at best, to sell a couple hundred copies and recoup my investment costs. So I was totally floored when the book took off. It still doesn't feel quite real.

2. I’ve read somewhere that you generally avoid New Adult genre, but you wrote this amazing NA book. Basically, what inspired you?

While I love the idea of New Adult, in practice I find it rife with misogyny, double standards, and glorified abuse, so I rarely read it. But I still love writing NA. Most of my characters fall into that age group (18-26ish) because it's one of the most fascinating periods in life: when you figure out who you are and what you're going to do with your time in this world. NA has all the emotional intensity and rawness of YA, but it's free to explore adult subjects like sex, careers, and making independent decisions. It's a potent mix of the best elements of YA and adult fiction.

3. Unteachable is about a student/teacher relationship, what is your opinion about those? I know I personally love reading about forbidden romances, but how do you feel about them in real life?

I don't have a general view on them. It always comes down to the individuals in the relationship. Is there genuine, mutual love and respect? Is the student mature enough to handle a complex adult relationship? Does the teacher truly want what's best for the student? Part of love is wanting the best for someone, and if the best means removing yourself from their life, then you need to be able to make that sacrifice.

Because these relationships are taboo and often illegal to begin with, we never really know what the dynamics are like between the couple. We just look at their ages and pass judgment. 32 and 18? Nope. Exploitation. Abuse. Predator. Victim.

But life is never really that black and white.

4. One of the reasons this book stood out to me is Maise. She’s such a mature character and I felt this was a book about her growing up too. How was writing from Maise’s perspective?

The best way I can describe it is that Maise feels like some real person who exists in a parallel universe, and she stepped in, took over my brain, wrote her own story, then vanished back to her universe. Her voice came to me so intensely right off the bat that I don't feel like I did much work. I just transcribed what I heard in my head.

5. Are there people who strongly disliked Unteachable, how do you feel about bad reviews? And did it happen that people misinterpret the book?

Oh, there are definitely people who strongly disliked it. But every book has readers who strongly dislike it. If everyone liked the same books, Goodreads and book clubs would be boring as hell. 5-star ALL the books! Yawn.
Negative reviews fascinate me. It's not praise I'm looking for--okay, it is, a little, but really what I'm hoping for is a strong reaction. That means someone is engaging viscerally with the work, even if it's to declare that it's total shit. And it's fascinating what turns people off. Some can't get past the age difference or teacher/student thing. Some dislike the prose style. Some hate the characters. The really interesting ones are the people who liked those things, but couldn't accept certain revelations around the 80% mark. It's almost like watching a social experiment: what's their breaking point? When does the taboo and controversy become too much? It tells you a lot about people.

I didn't write it as an experiment--I wrote it for myself. But I do think it's interesting how the book turned out to be so polarizing, and so reflective of people's tastes, values, beliefs, etc.

As for misinterpretation, I'm not sure that's possible. There's no "correct" way to interpret the book. I intended it to be ambiguous in certain ways, without clear guidelines for interpretation. I read a lot of literary fiction, and that's one of the qualities I love most about it: the open-endedness. You bring your own experiences, values, and beliefs to literary fiction, and it acts more as a magnifying glass that you look through to examine yourself, rather than an opaque painting that you sit back and passively admire. Literary fiction feels more active and alive to me, and leaves interpretation in the hands of the reader. I hope my book has some of those qualities. Plus, I'm super opinionated, so I like getting to pass judgment on things. And I know I'm not the only one, dammit!

6. Now the FILMS – such an important part of the book but I feel they’re not mentioned much. They add this visual aspect, how did you come up with that? I know you’re a graphic designer, so I’m guessing that’s where inspiration came from?

I just watch a lot of movies. I wouldn't call myself a film buff, though. The first time I saw Casablanca was while writing this, but it resonated so strongly with the story that it became a part of it. There also were these weird little coincidences...for example, early on (before I'd seen Casablanca myself), I had Maise quote from the poem "Invictus:" "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." I loved that poem when I was a teenager--it always embodied the never-give-up attitude for me, which Maise has in spades. Then it turned out that Captain Renault quotes it in Casablanca, too. Weird.

I'm sure being a graphic designer is part of what makes my writing so visual, but I'm not even that good at design. You should see how pathetically decorated my apartment is. It's a den of sloth and disrepair. My big accomplishment recently was unclogging the bathtub. That's about all the effort I'm willing to put into beautifying my environment.

7. Do you plan to write something else tied to the Unteachable world, a spin-off about other characters or a novella?

My lips are sealed. It's a possibility, but I don't have any definite plans. All I can say is: maybe.

8. Do you have some words of wisdom to share to all of us books lovers and what can we expect from Leah in the future?

More purple prose, more fucked-up characters, and more skirting the line between squee and squick.
As for wisdom: if you're a high schooler and you meet a hot older guy outside of school, ask him what he does for a living. Novels have taught me that 99% of the time, he will be your future teacher.


~All best,


  1. This is a great review Beatrice, I've read nothing but praising reviews for this book, so I'm glad that it lived up to your expectations and more. Also books which evoke so many feelings within you are typically my favourite reads too! :)

    1. Thank you Jasprit! Have you read it yet? :)
      Yes exactly so, it was quite special to me, and the theme is pretty interesting as well!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Not sure if this book would be for me right now, but I do think it sounds great :) I'm glad you loved it so much :D Five stars are awesome. <3 I also love the interview :) Thank you so much for sharing!
    Thank you for commenting on my WoW. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina's Books

    1. Regardless of the theme, you should check it out. The writing style is quite good! ;)
      Aww thank you! <3

      And thank you for commenting! :)

  4. Yay, Beatrix for your first interview and it is a fabulous one! I've been on the fence about this book but after reading the interview I think I need to pick this up. Excellent answers, Leah! I'm definitely intrigued.

    Btw, love your shoes in your signature, Beatrix! :)

    1. Thank you! :) It was really exciting to interview one of my favorite authors!
      I hope you'll pick it up, I'm curious about your opinion.

      Tnx, haha :D I have Glass to thank for that!!

  5. Big kiss and welcome to our new member Beatrix :* and awesome first review & interview!

    Also, a big thank you to Leah Raeder. We wish you many great books like Unteachable and we can't wait to read them.

    1. Thank you dear Purple!! :**

      And I agree with the second part! :)

  6. I cannot wait to read the book!
    Although what she said about the 80% mark has me worried. I so badly want to love this book you know?
    Awesome review and interview Beatrix! :)

    1. Thanks dear!
      Look, just read the book and be open-minded, I'm sure you'll love it! :)


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