Monday, November 26, 2012

Sweetest Taboo by Eva Marquez

Sweetest Taboo by Eva Marquez
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Terra Mia Press

Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart.  This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.  Join Isabel as she makes her way through this dark love story, hiding from teachers, lying to her parents, and defying the authorities to make a life with the man she loves. Watch as she discovers the wonders of love and romance, and the terrible betrayal of jealous friends. And cry with her when she learns the hard truth about life and the people in her world. - Goodreads.com


I normally take a couple of days after reading a book before I actually write the review.  It could be that I'm lazy at times, or it could be that I want to allow the book's elements to marinate for a little while so that I can give it a truly thoughtful response.  I like option two better...sounds better.  But it's probably a mixture of the two.  All that being said, I just finished reading Sweetest Taboo at 1:35am tonight, and here I am at 1:42am writing the review for it.  This review is also going to hop over several other books and be posted immediately for no other reason than that it had a truly impactful message for me and I absolutely loved it.

I've always had a pretty firmly held opinion about teacher to student relationships...mostly when we're talking about high school.  Once someone's in college, I pretty much feel like they're consenting adults and whether they have a relationship with a professor is something they have the intellect to reason out on their own.  But with high school students, it's more, yes, taboo, because the idea is that a kid in high school is more vulnerable, more easily preyed upon by sexual predators, and that teachers, having a position of authority over them, are able to then exert that authority in an unhealthy way to provoke the student into elicit activities and relationships that they're not mentally equipped to deal with.  Does it always follow that this assumption is true, however?  This is the question thoroughly explored in Eva Marquez story, Sweetest Taboo.

I went into this story knowing exactly what my take on this subject would be.  I've watched multiple new stories, Dateline episodes and other documentaries about teacher-student relationships that were outed and ended up being prosecuted, and I pretty much felt that this was always wrong, despite the fact that I could name at least two such cases where, after the sentence was served, the relationship picked right back up where it left off, and the now "of age" student is still in a relationship with their former teacher.  In this book, Marquez explores the possibility that these relationships don't always have to be criminal, or of a sexually predatory nature.  What if you have a young student, girl or boy, who knows exactly what he/she wants, and a teacher who would never do anything to hurt that student, would in fact protect them, do anything for them, and that the ultimate sex act isn't what the relationship is based on?  What if it was based on nothing but an emotional connection that ultimately leads, instead, to a special love?

I absolutely loved Isabel.  This is a smart girl.  She's mature for her age, despite the fact that there are a couple decisions that she makes early on that are impactful, and that do show her age.  The way she feels about her teacher, Tom Stevens, is firm and deep.  Teenaged kids fall in love with other teenaged kids all the time, and no one has any trouble accepting the fact that it is truly love.  So why, when the person they love is much older, is it not looked upon in the same light?  Isabel's relationship with Tom starts slowly, builds over the course of years, and it takes just about that long for them to even take their relationship into the ultimate physical act.  It is clear that their love is pure for each other.  Is it not possible that there might be times when such relationships are an exception?

Tom's character was sweet, gentle, caring.  There were times that I found him to be a little weak, but even he recognized this in himself, and there are things he does to change that.  The journey these two take over the course of the book was engrossing, and I couldn't help myself as I ended up rooting for them.  You just wanted so badly for them to get to be together as you read.

I have to give props to Eva Marquez.  Her writing of this book was masterful.  To be able to take such a taboo (yes, there it is again) situation and actually make her reader think of it in a new light, takes some talented handling.  People are probably going to either love this book or hate it, depending upon the strength of their convictions.  But I can guarantee, that regardless of their resulting opinion, the book WILL make them think, and it just might change their mind a little.  Bravo to Marquez for taking on such a controversial topic and handling it with such sensitivity and bravery.  It was utterly captivating to read, clearly, as I started it and finished it in one sitting.  I am dying to read the sequel, Tainted Love!


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