Publication date: September 8th 2013.
My rating: 3 stars
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 Bennett. 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. Bennett 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 Bennett - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
I have really conflicted feelings after finishing this book, on the one hand I truly admire Grace’s courage to tackle such a difficult subject. And even though I knew what it was about, I was in no way put off by it I wanted to know how things ended between our two main characters.
Despite being invested in the story, my biggest complaint was our MC Madelyn. We were told the story about her slowly developing relationship with her college professor Bennett through a letter. I wanted to know everything about their relationship, how it started, what happened, would they ever get caught out etc. And I understood why Madelyn felt such a strong connection with Bennett, her family was the worst with the constant 24 hour pressure to study and exceed all expectations and constantly excel. Madelyn was already two years ahead in terms of education, she was at college at the age of 16! she always received A grades and she was likely to graduate early. What else did they want? Had they even taken time out of their rigorous schedules and constant controlling of Madelyn’s life to ask what she wanted to do? And then there was Madelyn’s brother, who was four years older but always thought it was a game between them both to see who could achieve the most. He was constantly upping the bar, that their parents did nothing else but compare one to the other. On top of that Madelyn had no friends, I know this doesn’t make falling for her college professor, any more right, but she had finally found someone who wanted to know her, the real her and actually cared about her rather than her college grades. And Bennett didn’t pull out the stops and say their relationship was something they shouldn’t do, in fact he encouraged her in some respects by inviting her over to his house. But what frustrated me about Madelyn was that she never once told Bennett her real age. Maybe their relationship would have never got any further if she had told him the truth to begin with, but I’ll guess we’ll never know.
Madelyn for me was a really hard character to connect with, the fact that I was intrigued and invested in the story already was the sole reason I finished this book. Madelyn could be hugely frustrating. Bennett and Madelyn decided not to risk Bennett’s job (well actually Bennett decided) until he would no longer be her professor anymore, which would be eight weeks away. Bennett was so eager to be with Madelyn but was doing absolutely the right thing, they would spend time together outside of class at his place, but they did nothing but talk, sharing with each other their hopes, dreams and past relationships (well it was mostly Bennett doing this) and that’s why I liked Bennett, what he was doing was wrong, but he was being upfront and honest about everything. Madelyn used to mention her real age (16) in her head about 1000 times over the story, but decided not to tell Bennett the truth until the day they decided to be together. If Madelyn really cared about him, didn’t she think it would be the right thing to tell Bennett her real age instead of letting him assume she was 18/19 years old?
The way the narrative was told too I found it was a bit odd, as it was told in a letter to Bennett. Madelyn would constantly remind us of this, so during her telling the story she would stop to ask Bennett rhetorical questions, which I would have rather have not had her do and just continue with the flow of the story. But again the need to know how things would end kept me wanting to read on.
My review so far probably sound like a mini-rant, but honestly it’s not. I did have a couple of issues with The Truth about You & Me, but it ended up being a really poignant story. The second half was a lot better compared to the first half, we had the inevitable day to look forward to, would Bennett and Madelyn go through with it? Would Madelyn eventually tell the truth? And a character finally came through for me, I also found myself being able to appreciate Madelyn’s character in the end. I think I would have liked to have a chapter from Bennett, just so that we could experience everything he was feeling and going through especially during those pivotal moments. But I think Grace ended this book in the best possible, with closure for both characters.