“forbidden and fascinating”
“standout debut...not to be missed”
“blew me away”
"There is not a name for what I'm feeling. There is no description for it. To call it yearning would be like calling the ocean water. Whatever this thing is, it shoves you inside itself and you can't measure its boundaries because they go too far and you don't have enough time. Or you move toward the boundaries and they move away. There has been an earthquake in my life.”
For the millionth time I secretly guess his age. I would ask, but asking would bring the difference into it. Let’s say twenty-seven. I’ll be eighteen soon, so when he’s seventy-nine, I’ll be seventy. Practically no difference at all.
“Boys?” he says.
I suddenly realize he’s asking a question.
“A few should be allowed to live.”
He laughs. “No, I mean, you don’t have a boyfriend, do you?”
“I know what you meant. Maybe I just don’t know how to answer the question. I have a friend who’s a boy; you’ve met him. That’s about it.”
“Do you date much?”
What should I tell him? That I haven’t been on a date my whole senior year? That I haven’t wanted to? That the sum total of my experience with the opposite sex consists of a few fumbled moments with Schuyler in the snow?
I study the Wal-Mart wall. “I’m afraid of stopping,” I say.
“I don’t know if I can explain.”
Now I am getting light-headed, drunk on contact with his skin. “Stopping my life,” I say. “Stopping my dreams. I think maybe—I think I’m afraid sex will strand me with some stupid guy who won’t understand me, won’t let me do the things I’ve come here to do. I—”
“It’s okay,” Mr. Mann says.
As desperately as I want him to hold me, it helps that we are just sitting here first. That he has this perfect chance, but he’s showing control. The door can still be opened. I can still get out, walk away.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’ve never done anything like this before. Ever. I don’t want you to think—”
“I know. I know.” He looks at me. “It’s okay. I’m not like this, either. I mean, I’ve never done this before. Well, not with a—not with someone from school. I’m not like that. I want you to know that. You’re just so—different.”
Gulp. “I hope that’s good.”
“Different? Sure. Different is good. Different is—amazing.”
“It’s not that—that I didn’t have chances with guys. It’s just so important, you know? Who it is, why you do what you do. I think everybody’s here for a reason. We’re not supposed to waste our lives just messing around. There are too many fantastic, amazing things to do. You can’t screw it up.”
He smiles with his eyes. “How’d you get so intense?”
I think about it. I remember the message on his answering machine. “I’m like Mark Twain.”
“He said he was born excited. I understand that. That’s me. I don’t waste time on people who aren’t. I can’t. I have this Master Plan.”
“What? Tell me about it.”
“You’ll think it’s crazy.”
“No, I won’t.” He holds up three fingers like a Boy Scout, making me smile. Making me safe. “I promise,” he says. “Tell me.”
“I’m going to—” Should I really say it? Make it real? Take another breath. “I’m going to discover things people have never seen. Unbelievable things. Beautiful things that will change everything we know about the universe. Where it came from, where it’s going. What it is. Who we are. Someday they’ll all want me, and then—”
He leans over, puts a finger to my mouth.
“It’s all right. I believe you.”
Is that what I’m trying to do? Make him believe?
What if I’m messing it all up?
Publishers Weekly Galley Talk
A book about a teacher/student relationship would not be something I would normally pick up. But the cover of Teach Me intrigued me and when I read the first page about a girl known as Nine, I had to keep reading. In truth, it was the writing that blew me away. So many pages of this galley are now dog-eared—marking passages that I know I'll want to re-read. The author perfectly captures the awkwardness and grace of a teenager teetering on the cusp of adulthood. Each incident in Nine's life seems so credible, and the choices she makes lead to other choices that cause her life to fall apart at the seams. The effects of her affair with Mr. Mann leave her devastated with nowhere to turn. Fortunately for Nine, friendships can be rebuilt, perhaps even stronger than before, all causing her to see her life in a different light. - Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt.