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Published: August 26th, 2013.
Penny Press Publishing
My rating: 4 stars
"Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence.
But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.
And that’s when her life goes from bad to good."
I have no idea how to start this review. Was Good what I expected? Did I like it? Hate it? Was I completely turned on after reading steamy scenes? And then disgusted by myself because he is her teacher? Not to mention ten years older? Is this a story about abuse? Could it be considered as darker romance novel? What was the point with all religious aspects of the story? Well, one thing is sure - this is taboo read.
You shall have no sex before you're married. I have to start with a thing that bothered me the most. Too much religion talk. Cadence is seventeen years old girl (almost eighteen) who lives in extremely religious community - everything she does must be approved by her "Church". Like any teenager, Cadence tests boundaries of her world which leads her to some stupid choices and ten months in juvenile detention. Now she is "spawn of Satan" and there is no redemption for her mistakes - her parents, her ex-best friend Grace, her youth group at church and whole damn school are picking on her. It doesn't matter that she was a poster child for good girl before incident that got her in trouble.
With all due respect, I do not like religious ideology and that's why I'm hesitant to pick up books that promote that kind of view point.I probably wouldn't have read Good if I knew. Sad thing is that it would be a bad move because it turned out to be a good novel no matter my initial pouting when I realized what it's about. S. Walden is actually dealing with all the things community like that teach you and points out that life is not that simple and that even there you can find lot of things that "good Christians" shouldn't be doing. Now, this doesn't mean that she rejects her beliefs completely - she just talks about things that should be changed and aren't very logical.
Abuse or romance? Or maybe both? I have to set few things straight. I've noticed that lot of books about student/teacher affairs have one common thing in plot - they meet and hook up before they realize that they shouldn't have. He always thinks that she is older and she always thinks that he is younger or college student. Then you sit and wonder how the hell could he think that? Wasn't it obvious that she is still in high school? I have a question for you? Have you ever teach in high school, especially older kids? I have. I had honor to meet smart and eloquent girls for whom I believe have a really bright future and will make great lawyers, doctors, journalists or even teachers. And they are drop dead gorgeous. Stunning. Beautiful. I am so proud of every single one of them. Now, if I saw them out side of school hallways and classrooms, I would never guess that they are seventeen, eighteen years old. (Unless, of course, you get to talk with them about school.) So, it could happen.
Now, about teachers. Have you ever saw one of your younger teachers on Saturday night? Having fun with his/hers friends, wearing completely different clothes, smiling, drinking? Having fun? Not looking like that gloomy person that talks about responsibility or how all class will fail the next test if they don't start to study soon? We don't tend to think about our teachers as real persons that have a life outside their classrooms. Someone who has 28 years is still young and in some aspects not so different from his or her students. So, it could happen.
Good has a different approach - Cadence and Mark meet before, but they saw each other just for a short time and they exchanged few words. Nothing bad or scandalous. Everything happens slowly and you get to see everything behind sexy scenes and "excitement of forbidden romance" (that is basically what most of the books are about). S. Walden had done good job with describing their interaction - it is believable, because you catch on the age difference between them, how naive Cadence still is no matter her smarts and wit, Marc is older, more experienced and sometimes you get the feeling like he's the "predator" in the whole situation. Everywhere Cadence turns, there he is. But she is not stupid girl and she confronts him several times asking him if he's using her. This is not a story that talks just about forbidden lovers fantasy - it deals with consequences and social aspects (partially). I wouldn't label this book as fluffy romance - at times it was like I was reading a story about mental abuse. Maybe he loves her, but I can not justify a lot of his actions. They just felt wrong.
Is this something you should let your teenage daughter to read? In my opinion, Good by S. Walden is not young adult novel no matter the fact that narrator of the story is high school student. Just like Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, this book deals with very sensitive subject that needs a more serious reading and not just teen swooning over star crossed lovers. But when you say: "You are forbidden to read/do this!" it's more likely that they would do the exact thing you told them not to, so it's probably more wiser to talk with your kids openly and clear some things out from the beginning. Also, this book can be described as erotic romance - there are a lot of sex scenes and maybe you wouldn't be comfortable with your sixteen year old daughter reading some of them.
How does it make me feel? One of the things that define us as persons is what we do for living. When you are young, you think how you'll never be like grown ups in your life, but that is something that happens and you don't even notice it. You grow up and start to think trough about everything that you do or say. That is why I can't forget my job while I read this novel. If I had read this book ten, eight years ago, I would be all heartbroken and cheering for Cadence and Mark. But that is not the case. I can not ignore my work ethic and say that whole situation is okay because they are in love. I understand circumstances that lead to everything, but I still think that Mark as teacher abused his position. Don't get me wrong - I very much enjoyed reading this book, but I guess that I grow up and I can't simply swoon over forbidden romance without thinking about what is right thing to do.
Will you read it? I know that this was one of my longer posts, that most of you gave up reading it after first half, but I had to clarify few things. So, have you read Good? Did you like it? Are planning to read it? And are okay with teens reading stories like this?
Come back again tomorrow... because S. Walden agreed to answer few of my questions, but also she will be giving away 2 e-copies of Good. Also, earlier today we posted cover reveal for Better - you can also get ARC copy of the sequel. On Saturday S. Walden is talking about student/teacher topic in books. Do not miss it!