Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre

Me and Mr J (2015) (Electric Monkey, Egmont)
Rachel McIntyre
Grade: B++
Genre: young adult
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A book on Egmont's frontlist 

Lara Titliss (Worst. Surname. Ever.) has recently found salvation in her new diary – an unexpected and unwanted gift from her grandmother. It is in these pages that Lara documents the bullying and torment she suffers from her peers as a result of being a tall, gangly red-head and the least popular girl at school, yet also her discovery of her soulmate. One problem – he’s her teacher. Mr Jagger is the best thing that has ever happened to her school. All the girls in Lara’s class unashamedly throw themselves at him, but she’s the one who he praises in class and asks for help with a special project. He’s the first person who takes her seriously and takes the time to listen to her problems; it’s no wonder that she falls helplessly over heels in love with him. Surely he can’t love her back …

Me and Mr J takes a difficult and sensitive topic and handles it brilliantly. Jacqueline Wilson’s Love Lessons (2005) is very similar, following the story of a girl falling in love with her male teacher, but in my opinion, Rachel McIntyre does it better. Lara’s diary is heartfelt, gritty and painful, taking the reader on the same emotional turmoil that she’s experiencing. As if her troubles at school weren’t enough, her parents are going through a difficult time in their relationship and Lara’s best friend has moved away, meaning she has no one to confide in. Rachel McIntyre has a great style and it is effortless to connect with Lara and root for her as a heroine and the underdog. Besides the whole falling-in-love-with-your-teacher element, there are some great messages about bulling and school culture that can’t be ignored and I hope the right people are shouting far and wide about this book. Well done to Rachel McIntyre for capturing all these issues so well.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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