Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things.
Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured—and missed out on—in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.
There's only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen—because she hasn't told him the truth.
The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet—both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
The Truth About You & MeFeatured
Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things.
What I liked: The cover, the unique letter-style writing and the complex relationship that unfolded. My first thought was, this is a Dateline Special waiting to happen. After awhile though, I found myself almost wanting to root for Maddie and Bennet's HEA - almost.
Maddie is a smart girl but she's young. Always pushing a child to be "more" has a way of aging a kid and it can be very easy to forget that they are still in fact, a kid. When she meets Bennet it's almost love at first sight for her and she proceeds to swoon and fantasize a relationship with him all the while knowing it's not possible. She has several opportunities to tell the truth but she never does, choosing instead to pursue Bennet.
Society, as well as Dateline producers and the police, would be quick to place 100% of the blame on Bennet because he is the adult after all. Yes, he should've pushed for more specific information from Maddie and yes, he could've checked with the school to be sure of her age and yes, he could've distanced himself on the sole principle that he was breaking the rules by fraternizing with a student. In his defense though, he was teaching a college class which is usually made up of college age aka adult students - usually.
I think the biggest difference between Maddie and Bennet wasn't their age, but the worlds they were living in. Where Maddie was living in a fantasy made up of love, romance and happily-ever-afters, Bennet was living in the real world where he was very familiar with the highs and lows of adult relationships. (This doesn't mean that my heart didn't break for these characters, or that I didn't wish circumstances couldn't somehow change in their favor, i.e., Maddie's age progression.)
One of the BEST things about this book is that Grace shows the serious and very real consequences for the choices Maddie and Bennet make.
What left me wanting: This is one of those books where you know going in that it can only end badly but you can't seem to put it down.
Final verdict: Complex, gritty and heartbreaking.
Madelyn is one of those super smart people who get the chance to go to college earlier, skip grades and whatnot. She feels like she can never be as good as her brother, who's going to one of those well-known universities. Her father is always pushing her to do better and Madelyn is not so happy about it. Everything changes when she meets Bennet, her bio professor.
Bennet thinks Madelyn is a 19 year-old college student. They fall in love but he doesn't take any actions until the class he's teaching her ends. Madelyn has never been in love before Bennet and she doesn't tell him she's only sixteen. I liked Bennet more than Madelyn because even if it was wrong for a student to date a teacher, he did do the right thing and waited until they no longer were in that position while Madelyn kept lying. The reason I didn't like her is that she's clearly smart and yet she was stupid enough to think that kind of relationship would ever work.
The Truth About You and Me reminds me of one of my all-time favorite books - Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick. It's another book about teacher-student relationship, Sadly, it wasn't as good as Bick's. While Bick wrote a book which seemed more mature, Grace's appeared still too childish.
This book is written entirely in letters (three?) from Madelyn to Bennet. And because of that, there is this connection that you develop with Madelyn, because you’re reading correspondence from one wounded person to another.
Right from the start, you can tell that this isn’t going to be one of those books where everything works out in the end. No sunshine, rainbows, and Happily Ever After. A 16 year old falling in love with her teacher is a relationship that is doomed from the start.
The basic premise of the plot is that a relationship built on a lie can never last. How one small omission of truth can lead to such terrible consequences.
I loved the characters. Both of them were totally believable, Madelyn as a young girl succumbing under the weight of her parents’ expectations, and Bennet as the young teacher who knows a relationship with a student would put him in a compromising position.
There was an ache in my heart the entire time while I read this book (finished it in under 3 hours, it’s a short read) and a weird feeling of emptiness when I finished it. Call me crazy, but even though the ending was predictable, I was hoping for a tearful re-union. Didn’t happen. But it doesn’t make the book any less likable, just makes it more believable.
I think I’ll go write a letter now.