Tuesday 10 February 2015

Review ~ Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre.

Title: Me & Mr J.
Author: Rachel McIntyre.
Publisher: Electric Monkey.
Genre: Young Adult.
Publication Date: January 29, 2015.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.

Lara's life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

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 reciprocate her feelings … can he?

Me & Mr J is the fascinating story of the life of Lara Titliss, a fifteen year old girl with an unfortunate surname, writing in her diary about her frankly dismal life. Lara has generally quite an upbeat outlook in her diary or at least brings a lot of humour regardless of the situation she’s in. I’m not a huge fan of books told in diary form but I really connected with Lara’s character and it was interesting getting into the mind of the teenager, as scary a prospect as that can be. I really loved this book – it covered a subject which was always set to divide people but told in a way that actually had me thinking about the real-life impact of the story being told and it all felt quite plausible, regardless of the circumstances. Me & Mr J is powerful, moving, emotive, funny and thought-provoking all in one, and I raced through it, eager to know how it would all end.

This novel covers two big themes, bullying and a student/teacher relationship, but bravely and intelligently links them together. We see straight away that Lara is bullied at school, pretty much just because she has ginger hair and her mum is a cleaner. I left school only a few years ago and pathetically, this is more than enough to cause someone to be bullied. When Lara is describing the bullying, some of the awful things the people at her school and the boy’s school were doing to her, it disgusted me and moved me all at the same time. I could probably relate to her situation a hell of a lot more than I like to think and it made me sad, seeing the way she was being treat and how she couldn’t do something normal like slip to the toilet or get the bus home without being cornered. Not that she didn’t have enough going on in her life as it was, without the whole school turning against her. I’m amazed she made it to school at all, knowing what she was letting herself into. The author wrote the bullying angle so realistically and I could picture it all happening, and sometimes it might feel a little extreme but believe me that doesn’t mean these things don’t happen. I loved Lara’s voice in this book – her telling of the daily occurrences was compelling. At times she did react and say stuff back to the bullies and at other times she would sit back and take it but that’s all perfectly normal and to me, believable. Stand up for yourself or stay quiet and they’ll soon leave you alone are two of the most common pieces of advice you would receive if you’re being bullied but neither work all that effectively.

Another common piece of advice… talk to someone. A teacher, a friend, a family member… Anyone. Lara feels like she has nobody to talk to about the bullies but soon her new nice, caring, understanding teacher Mr Jagger catches her eye and she finds someone who will give her the time of day. Mr Jagger is the only person who tells her how intelligent she is and tries to get her to respect herself and believe in herself. Lara wants to escape the bullies and spending more time with her new teacher seems like the best option, except she very quickly becomes enamoured with him. This was such a bold thing to write about and I think credit to the author’s characterisation because a student/teacher relationship is so, so wrong and yet I found it difficult accepting that, in the book, because I loved both Lara and Mr Jagger and so yes I knew it was completely wrong but I still wanted happy endings for both these characters. I don’t even care how bad that sounds, this story just had me so involved in these characters lives, wishing for a world where bullies doesn’t exist and people could just be happy and let’s face it, if Lara wasn’t being bullied, she would have wanted to spend all her time with her friends and not her teacher, however cute he was.

An uncomfortable topic to read maybe but I really, really enjoyed Me & Mr J. It covers grim subjects but it’s not a wholly depressing book. There’s some sweeter moments and some humour and just a really good story. Teenage girls are always going to make mistakes but what can they take from those mistakes? I loved the ending, it was a fitting way to end the story, but I guess with so many strong and memorable characters it was hard for me to feel completely satisfied with the end as there were some people I’d like to know how things turned out for and some loose ends to be tied up. But honestly, a book hasn’t moved me and messed me up like this one did for a long time! Such a stunning debut novel and I can’t wait for more from this author.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK


  1. Such a great review, the book sounds amazing!

    1. Thank you! I loved it. Think you would too.


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