Me & Mr. J by Rachel McIntyre

Oh my GOD, you guys. Oh my god. This book.

I think I spent the complete day in the past.

Okay, not really, but let me tell you, this book does such an amazing job at portraying the 16-year-old female voice, it made me feel like I was back in high school again.

I gotta say, I picked this book up on a whim. I’m a sucker for forbidden romances. The Thorn Birds is my Bible and I ship Snape/Hermione. I have a weakness for May/September romance films featuring Audrey Hepburn and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

First, let me give you the idea of what I dove into yesterday:

memrjSynopsis from Amazon:

Lara’s life is far from perfect, but being an upbeat kind of person she saves her venting for her diary. It’s the only place she can let out her true feelings about the family dramas and hideous bullying she has to face every day.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot love her back … can he?

Poor Lara T, who copes with her life by documenting everything in new brand new diary, is being horrifically bullied at school every day, but she can’t tell anyone because the bully has threatened to get her mum fired from her job, and Lara’s family desperately needs the money.

Along comes Mr. J, with looks straight out of a modelling agency, who depends on Lara to show him the ropes of the school, notices that she is being bullied and (unsuccessfully) tries to put a stop to it, and compliments her looks, brain, personality, everything about her when everyone else is telling her the exact opposite. AND he is only six or seven years older than her.

The narrative is told through Lara’s diary, so we only get what she feels is relevant. So, this book is from the first person point of view. There is a final part of the book that made me question her narrative. Is Lara an unreliable narrator? I mean, she did write this all down while she was going through a horrible bout of torment in her life, both in home and in school. Her only light was Mr. J, who she sought to spend every free moment with, and was her refuge in a storm. Sorry, I’m trying really hard to not spoil the book!

This book emphasized to me the growth of the brain in a ten-year span – that is, the difference between a teen brain and an adult brain. Everything is just so much worse when you’re 16! This made all of my school memories flood back. Just how self-conscious you are about everything — your looks, your height, your weight, your hair, your face, what people are thinking about you… Of course Lara felt she couldn’t tell anybody, she just wanted it kept quiet and hoped it went away on its own, exactly as I would have done ten years ago. Now I’d be screaming about bullying from the rooftops.

Overall, the narrative is gripping. I would dread turning the page to see what new vicious thing her bullies were going to dream up or do to her, but I also couldn’t wait to see how things developed with Mr. J. I seriously could not put this down and finished it when my eyes were drooping past midnight. I was so completely enveloped in Lara’s world and I wanted things to go so well for her when everything else was complete shit.

From what I’ve read of other people’s reviews, the reason the book has been rated down is the abrupt ending, though many other people were satisfied with it. I can’t speak for it much because I don’t want to spoil it!

The author’s site can be found here.

Have you read this book? What do you think?

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