Consent is not a novel to read lightly. Nancy Ohlin takes a serious issue and dives head first into it with a well-thought out story that invites, above all, room for discussion. Like most strong novels about a taboo subject, readers will find questions and more questions, instead of any one-sided answer. And, as again with most novels about taboo subjects, more than a few areas will make readers uncomfortable. I left the story myself with a jumble of thoughts and feelings that I’m not sure how to sort.
Consent is more than a story about a taboo subject, however. Bea’s personal journey outside of romance is touching. For the most part, Bea is an unreliable narrator. Herself and Dane, and the people around them, could be read an infinite number of ways, and the reader never truly gets a set answer about the heart of each character. Yet, when it comes to Bea’s musical path, she character shines off the page. She tries to hide her love for the piano because music reminds her father of her dead mother, and she struggles to both accept what she wants career/college wise and ask others, like her father, to accept it as well. Her family dynamic is realistic and sincere, never sugar-coated but has nice room for some sweetness.
Consent is a difficult novel to read. Nancy Ohlin presents a kaleidoscope of possible lens to view a student-teacher relationship, many of them more uncomfortable than the last. The strong writing and room for discussion make Consent a story about which to think long and hard, and many readers will find Bea’s struggle to accept her dreams realistic and truthful.