Friday, June 3, 2011

Gone by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson

Title: Gone
Author: Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Date Read: May 26 - 28, 2011
Rating: 2/5 stars 

That first day of class, her eyes had flickered over him the way a teacher's will. But hers had come back to rest. Before flitting away again.
It was too late. She had seen him.
Connor pretended she hadn't, but she had. It terrified him. It made his blood sing.
His history teacher, Ms. Timms.
What had he ever thought about, before he thought about her?

At last, Connor understood that his life was his to live. No more pity love. Not from aunts and neighbors. Not from missing mothers and fathers. Not from drunks. The real thing was his this time; he just needed to take it.

Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, known for 'riveting' fiction (Kirkus), digs deep into the heart of a forbidden relationship. Sometimes, she tells us, loneliness can send a boy down a lonely path. Sometimes, it can take a while to find the way back

Meh. I borrowed Gone from the library due to it's intriuging cover and the fact that a friend had specifically not recommended it to me, saying I'd hate it. I decided to read it anyways, going in with a positive attitude and hoping to prove her wrong. Unfortunately, she knew me too well.

As I've mentioned several times in previous reviews, I love original and refreshing plots and characters. Gone lacked both of these. Knowing that the novel was about a student-teacher romance I expected high-stakes and angst but instead it was causal, bland, and boring. I ended up finding Connor's neighbours' and friends' lives more interesting than Connor's. His mother's alcoholism was random and didn't really affect the plot other than to isolate Connor from his family, which I guess may have led Connor to seek companionship in Corrina? One of the most poorly written aspects was the romance between Corinna and Connor. I didn't understand the initial attraction or the sexual tension. I thought it was really juvenile and unrealistic that they'd fall in love with each other in only a week and become so intimate so quickly. This was definitely not an accurate representation of how relationships, let alone studen-teacher relationships evolve.

I think Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson tried to tackle too many issues in such a short novel and it ended up as a jumble in the end. Alcoholism, death, teenage romance, sexuality, student-teacher relationships, drug abuse, loneliness, abuse, etc. are all very controversial and tough issuse to conquer individually let alone all in th same novel. I wish that Connor's thought process had been more clearly explained, for example if he had compared his relationship to Zach and Risa's and seen the differences for him and Corrina the reader might have understood why he wanted to move with her so badly. In novels like this it's so hard to write an ending that applies to each of these topics so in the end Kathleen focused on isolation (hence the title "Gone") which may have worked as a final chapter if there weren't so many other pressing issues and logistics left unfinished.

Despite not liking the overall novel there were a few points I did enjoy. I thought it was very creative to have the student-teacher romance not take place during the school year or on school property but rather in the summer, where the chances of being caught and the repurcussions were a bit different. I liked how Corinna was an average formally-troubled woman who happened to fall in love with a student as opposed to a sensual provocative woman lurring every male at school. The fact that she was as isolated and naive as Connor made her seem more like a fellow student than someone almost 10 years older than him.

Quote: "If you don’t deal with the past, the past deals with you."

Recommended: Teach Me (R.A. Nelson), Prey (Lurlene McDaniel), Target (Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson)

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