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Continuing with the 2019 Phonics Challenge:

G for guardian — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire-fighting organization. Or read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is a parent.

The book that fits this prompt is from a new-to-me author, Olivia Dade. Her Teach Me was published in 2019 and has been receiving a lot of good word of mouth.

The story, no more than 238 pages, focuses on two high school teachers, Rose Owens who has been successfully teaching history at Marysburg High School for years and Martin Krause, a new arrival, who the local school administrator (who has been out to get Rose) has decided will be taking over some of Rose’s classes which will potentially affect her future ability to attract students, and therefore funding, for her upper level AP courses. This initial – somewhat one-sided conflict – creates a chilly atmosphere between Rose and Martin. That doesn’t stop Martin from admiring Rose, finding her both attractive as well as a gifted teacher. Despite Rose’s antagonism, it doesn’t take her long to see that Martin is also a great educator, and that he’s not at fault for what the loathsome administrator had done. She also finds out that Martin’s whole reason for transferring to her school was to be near his teenage daughter, who is a student there since his ex-wife remarried and moved to the area. This last year of high school, before college, is his last opportunity to be a part of his daughter Bea’s everyday life. As for Martin, he slowly and steadily begins to thaw Rose’s ice queen veneer. But, will she ever open up enough to him to let him in, especially after suffering through her own disastrous marriage?

Despite the cartoony cover, Teach Me is a book about real people with real issues. Both lead characters are in their 40’s and have a boatload of insecurities and scars from damaged childhoods as well as relationship battles as adults. Rose has a problem letting people in. She has pride and has learned to depend on no one, even if they love her and want to help. Martin, on the other hand, is open to a relationship and to love. However, he was taught from an early age that he was found wanting as a man, too sensitive and caring. His former wife compounded this by seeming to suggest he wasn’t exciting enough for her. What I loved about this book is that most of us can identify with one or more of these hang-ups. Furthermore, the characters mostly deal with each other intelligently and not immaturely – such that you aren’t finding them to be “too stupid to live” or one dimensional. Another strength of the book is that it’s a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be a good teacher who fights for “their kids” and cares. Sure there’s not a sense that the school is terribly diverse and therefore there’s little discussion of race or ethnic differences, but the emphasis on class issues is well drawn and there is a touch of gender diversity too. But, I felt the latter was kind of tacked on for no discernable reason. In any event, I enjoyed this read and would give it an A-.


The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 14 down, 5 to go (A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, S …)
The Phonics Challenge – 7 down, 12 to go