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.
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.
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I stood at his door before lunch straining to hear the rhythmic beats pulsing low and steady from his laptop. The song was mellow and monotonous—understated sophistication—and I thought I should be having an intellectual conversation with someone while it played. I wanted it to be with Mr. Connelly, but the 59 percent on my math test suggested the conversation would sound more like this:
“Cadence, there are special classes for students like you.”
“You need to be in a special class for math.”
“I don’t understand.”
I considered walking away. I was extra nervous to be near Mr. Connelly ever since the wet wipe incident. I still couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He had been just as remote and distant after the wet wipe incident as he was during the weeks that followed my lunch from Moe’s. Back and forth. Back and forth. He was giving me a headache.
In any case, I needed help. I could not fail math. I had to graduate, so I pushed through the door before I lost my nerve. He looked up from the stack of papers in front of him, throwing his pencil carelessly on the desk. Like everything he’d been working on was suddenly unimportant.
“What’s up, Cadence?”
“It’s obvious I don’t understand anything,” I said, slapping my test in front of him. “I’m not stupid, though. I mean, just because I don’t understand derivatives doesn’t mean I’m a freaking idiot.”
I shuffled my feet and hung my head low, biting nervously on my bottom lip.
“No one said you were an idiot,” Mr. Connelly replied, turning off the music.
I looked up and saw a slight grin on his face. Glad he found me amusing.
“Well, a 59 percent sure does look stupid,” I said sulkily.
“We’ll make it better,” he said.
“I’m starting tutoring sessions next week after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he replied.
I bit my lower lip harder. How could I stay after school? I had no ride home and was not asking my parents to pick me up. They both worked anyway and wouldn’t be able to.
I shook my head and shrugged. “Oh well.” Again with the instant tears. I had a knack for being out-of-control emotional around this guy.
“What does that mean?”
“I can’t stay after school. I have no ride home.” My lower lip quivered.
“Hmm.” He swiveled in his chair and scratched his cheek. “Well, you can’t fail calculus or you won’t graduate. And I suspect you wanna graduate and get the hell out of here.” He looked up at me expectantly.
I nodded, fighting the tears. I thought about Oliver’s intramural soccer game this weekend and how boring it’d be. There. That seemed to work. I felt my eyes drying up.
“Don’t worry, Cadence,” Mr. Connelly said. “I’ll work something out.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just leave it to me,” he replied, then took a sip of his Orange Crush.
I smiled. “I’ve never seen anyone over the age of eleven drink Orange Crush.”
“Well, my friends in college gave me hell over it,” he replied. “Apparently in college you drink iced lattés. That’s what you do.”
“Duly noted,” I said.
Mr. Connelly cleared his throat and looked down at the papers on his desk. I took it as a signal to leave. I turned around, then froze at his words.
“I’ve got something for you,” he said.
“You do?” I asked, turning back around to face him. He dug around in his messenger bag.
“Yeah. Just give me a second to find it . . .”
I stood nervously pulling on the buttons of my shirt. My girlish heart and brain thought it might be a flower or a box of chocolates. I was an idiot, okay?
“Here we go,” he said, and pulled out a CD. He handed it to me. “I remember you said you couldn’t get on the Internet. Thought you might wanna listen to ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’ since you were curious about it.”
I blushed, hanging my head so that he couldn’t see. This was way better than chocolates or a flower.
“I did,” I whispered. “In computer class.” I didn’t have to tell him that, but I wanted to. I wanted to hear his reaction.
“Oh? When you were supposed to be working?” The question came out as a flirty admonishment. And that’s the reaction I wanted.
I shook my head. “I finished my work first.” I looked up at Mr. Connelly.
“And what did you think?” he asked.
“I thought it was . . . perfect.”
His stare made me uncomfortable and extremely excited. I wanted to know what he was thinking, but I wouldn’t dare ask. It looked utterly private and off limits.
“Would you like to keep the CD for a while?” he asked.
“You won’t miss it?”
He shook his head. “I’ve got an iPod.”
“Okay. Thanks,” I replied, and tucked the CD securely in my bag. “Who were you listening to when I came in?”
“DJ Premier,” he replied.
“What’s the song called?”
“‘Teach the Children’,” he said with a smirk.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
Mr. Connelly chuckled. “I’m really not. The song is called ‘Teach the Children’.”
“So what? Is that, like, inspiration for you when you’re planning out your lessons?”
He cocked his head slightly and considered me. “You’re funny. And yes, maybe it is inspiration.”
I swear his eyes burned holes into my face. He was so . . . intense. But a quiet, stable kind of intense, if such a thing could exist. I stood awkwardly, waiting for him to dismiss me.
“You should go to lunch, Cadence,” he said, a faint smile playing on his lips.
“Okay.” I turned to leave.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Mmhmm,” was all I could say.
"Emotions are there own universal language"
This quote pretty much described this whole book for me. Yes I was an emotional mess but I got to also live the anguish of a high school girl that desperately wanted to be The GOOD GIRL again. Oh how I don't miss high school!! Candace has been a good girl her whole life, but even the good ones get curious sometimes. Her curiosity put her in Juvie for 10 months and she became the victim of bullying at her high school. To the rescue not once but twice was mark Connelly aka mr. Dream boat her teacher.
This was not your typical school girl meets teacher crush/torrid love affair. This was a love story of a girl lost trying to find her way and live with the choices she had made. Along the way she picks up some unusual friends and develops a friendship that should be forbidden. The friendship that mark and Candace develop was an emotional one and it got even more emotional when it blossomed in to something more.
This one was great. It will make you think what really is the definition of love? And who gets to determine who you can/can't love? Great job mrs. Walden on this emotional roller coaster. I Look forward to reading more from you.
Book rating: 4 stars/B