Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Consent - Nancy Ohlin

Rating: 3.5 stars
Published: November 2015
Many thanks to Simon Pulse for providing a ebook via Pulse It.

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Bea's life is just perfect; she has good grades, she has an amazing best friend, and she uses lies to cover up the rest. Her family is almost non-existent, she doesn't want what her best friend wants, and her own dreams are impossible. With college applications looming and hard decisions to be made, Bea finds herself in an elected music history course. There she meets Dane, her substitute teacher. He's young, charismatic, British, and he has a true ear for music. When Dane hears Bea play the piano he encourages her to succeed, setting her up for all hopes of achieving a dream she had kept hidden for so long. What starts as encouragement soon grows to more when Bea develops feelings and Dane reveals his as well. A trip to New York later, and a major opportunity on the horizon, things fall apart when Bea must question their relationship, herself, and who Dane really is.

Bea is seventeen, which seems both old and young all at the same time. While I am not one to encourage relationships with teachers, I have seen it work in real life and I have read plenty of books with similar story lines. The relationship between her teacher, Dane, and Bea makes the reader question Dane, because how is it so easy for a man of his decorum to fall into a relationship so easily. He crosses the line several times and I personally thought immediately he must have done this before. It's the way in which Nancy Ohlin writes his character, with so much charm, with a true love of music that blurs the rules. Then there's Bea, our main character. She's biracial, constantly filled with guilt and lies, and lacking a true family home. She's relies on her best friend's family, she acts like more of an adult, and her love of music is hers alone. What starts as just music grows to so much more. Not only does Dane fulfill a missing hole for Bea, but he nurtures her in a way she lacked. So while Bea is this adult child, she's also still so young and her maturity level and emotions show that. I love that we only read from her POV, because it allows the reader to really see how Bea's thoughts work, how the relationship looks only from her eyes, how that approval of music meant so much, and when things heat up with the investigation how she finds her family filling that hole she didn't even realize she had. This is a short novel, so things move fast, but the life of Bea is sadly perfect for the situation. Dane and Bea fall so easily into a relationship, because no one is looking at Bea and worrying. I do love that her best friend is there no matter what, even at the times it feels uncomfortable. It allowed me to really think about the fact that they weren't warned off of this sort of thing or really taught the rules.

Of course, I like the open ended ending, because we as readers don't really know what the future holds for Dane and Bea. We do know that Dane has held on hope and Bea has moved on to realize her freshman year of college is promising, because her life has changed so drastically since they first met. Their relationship is both exciting and scary, because Bea has all these emotions, but she also has fear of discovery and the natural thoughts of a young woman when she starts really looking at who Dane is. While their relationship is one that is illegal, it is easy to see from Bea's point of view and the emotions that are involved. It's also fairly easy to see why Bea chooses space from Dane, even though the emotions are still there. I appreciated that the author gave us just one POV, allowing us to understand the mind of a seventeen going on eighteen year old girl.

I needed about another 6 chapters to Consent, not because it was a book I super wanted to hang onto, but I felt like everything was smoothed over. There wasn't enough to the investigation, into the school and Bea's peers thoughts, or even her own. On top of that, consent is merely mentioned within a couple of chapters, then it too is passed over. While I really enjoyed the natural way in which Bea realized she couldn't be with Dane, I don't feel as though it was due to learning about consent, but more about how she felt about Dane when she learned about his past and reviewed her feelings during the investigation. It made the story so much more romantic, if that's a term you want to connect to the student/teacher relationship, instead of a lesson.

While I ended this book feeling like it lacked some things, it did not disappoint. Consent is very well-written and I think is a great addition to the young adult genre. The situation between Bea and her teacher, Dane, isn't unique, but I do feel like this book stands out because there is so much more to it than just the taboo relationship. This book makes you think about what is right and wrong, and the hazy line in between.

1 comment

  1. This sounds right up my alley! I'm glad to hear you liked it! I've always been intrigued by relationships that toe the line of right and wrong in society, so I'm really interested to see what Ohlin does with it. Hopefully I'll get the book relatively soon from my library. Great review Carlene!


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