Have you ever been excited to read a book… only to find it is disappointing? This is one of those times… *sad face* Read on to find out why I was disappointed with Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler.
Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler
Publication Date: 07 April 2016
Publisher: Hachette Children’s
Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .
Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?
A thought-provoking coming out story from a highly skilled author.
As soon as I heard about Read Me Like a Book, I was desperate to read it. I had yet to read a book that has a teacher/pupil relationship aspect, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would be approached in a YA novel.
I was only a few pages into RMLAB when I realised it had an easy, laidback tone. Here’s an example so you can see what I mean:-
“While I’m here, let me tell you about Luke. He’s one of the good guys. You know the type. Wears nice clothes – not the trendiest ever, but not geeky or scruffy. Helps old ladies across roads. Does his homework on time. Gets on with people’s parents.”
Whilst there is nothing wrong with this style of narration, I have to admit that I was expecting more of a mature, detailed style of narration and tone to reflect the mature topics in the novel. After having a think about it, I can see that RMLAB is aimed at younger readers than myself, perhaps the 12-16 age group noting the references to sex and alcohol.
Ashleigh, our main character and narrator, is a normal teenage girl. She is going through a lot – juggling school, understanding boys and trying to ignore the breakdown of her parents’ marriage. I struggled to picture Ashleigh in my head. I felt that she wasn’t described in as much detail as some of the other characters. Again, after some thought, this may have been down to the author trying to make her as relatable as possible to anyone who was reading the book. Whilst Ashleigh wasn’t terribly unlikeable, I didn’t particularly connect with her as a reader.
I’ll be honest, I was completely underwhelmed with the “love story” between Ashleigh and her teacher, Mrs Murray. To me, it didn’t seem that Ashleigh’s feelings were genuine. There was no build up or tension, her feelings for her teacher seemingly appearing overnight. To be fair, I am glad that the author didn’t romanticise it and make it a relationship to aspire to, because this definitely isn’t #RelationshipGoals! Personally, I would have preferred it if the story was about Ashleigh falling in love with her best friend Cat. Something along the lines of – “One day, I saw Cat differently” and started the story from there. I think this would have been more realistic and relatable, as I have no doubt that this does happen in real life. This storyline could have covered topics such as homophobia, bullying and depression in greater detail, but hey ho.
I found the pace of RMLAB to be rather slow. I’m not sure if it was down to the simple style of story telling, but it felt like things didn’t begin to happen until halfway through the novel. It picked up pace towards the 75% mark, but by then it began to feel almost too fast and there wasn’t time to let events sink in. The loose ends were all conveniently tied up, and the ending of the novel just fell flat to me.
Putting my complaints to the side, Read Me Like a Book was an enjoyable, easy read with an important message of coming out and acceptance. This would be a great book to give to younger readers to show them that being gay IS ok, and that it doesn’t change who you are. You’re still the same person underneath.
What was the last disappointing book you read?