Pub. Date: September 8th, 2013
From the first page of The Truth About You & Me you make assumptions. Freshman college class – must be 18; Biology – must be fairly smart. As readers we play into exactly the kind of assumptions Bennett – her Biology instructor – would make when Madelyn walks into his classroom. But Maddie is 16, and she makes some really stupid decisions. Brought together by their mutual love for hiking, Madelyn’s classroom crush is not rejected by Bennett like you would expect, but encouraged. Written as an apology and explanation to Bennett through a letter, The Truth About You & Me tells Madelyn’s version of the relationship and it is only as truthful and honest as you believe a character that knowingly deceives someone she claims she loves, for months.
I truly expected that Madelyn would learn a heck of a lot after everything she puts Bennett through. But with the majority of the novel being comprised of a single letter, written almost immediately after the foreseeable end to the doomed relationship, we get very little perspective after the fact. I wanted more growth, and I wanted Madelyn to redeem herself in some way. Instead we get a Madelyn reeling over a lost relationship, justifying her actions. While it’s clear that Madelyn is sorry she hurt Bennett, it’s not clear if she learned a single thing from the experience, and I strongly disliked her for it. I felt extremely sorry for Bennett. He did knowing spend a lot of time with a student, and planned a relationship with her after he was no longer her teacher, but he was kept in the dark about her real age and I felt incensed for him. Bennett comes off as genuine and as likeable as a teacher who has a relationship with a student can be, which made my dislike for Madelyn stronger.
The letter style of the novel, even though I didn’t think it showed much character growth, didn’t bother me in the same way as the abrupt shift into a narrative style at the very end. I felt completely taken out of the story and ultimately lost complete interest. I think the novel should have ended when the letter ends. It would have been much more ambiguous, and in my opinion the cautionary tale aspect would have been much more effective. Also taking me out of the story, to be completely nitpicky, were inconsistencies. Which school Madelyn’s brother was attending fluctuated between MIT and Harvard, and these little errors became what I focus on, once I’d lost interest in the story.
I think the story idea behind The Truth About You & Me was interesting, and the approach unique. But, my dislike for the changing perspective, and my extremely frustration and dislike of Madelyn, prevented me from truly enjoying this novel.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.
This review and others like it are available at confessionsofanadultteenreader.blogspot.ca