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“Gone” by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson

29 May

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

I'm sure you've all read or heard about romantic relationships between teachers and students. In that sense, "Gone," which tells the story of a destructive affair between history teacher Ms. Timms and recent high school graduate Connor, is a very timely story.

Connor excelled at woodworking and furniture making — but little else — in high school. As the summer after his graduation begins, he's adrift with no real plans for the future. Having survived a difficult upbringing with an alcoholic mother and a debilitated father, Connor seems content to keep living with his great-aunt Syl, working the grill at the Chow Line, and hanging out with his best (and only) friend Zach. But after Connor kisses Ms. Timms during a picnic in a local park, his life changes dramatically. Suddenly, he is making secret plans to meet his former teacher, lying to his aunt and neighbors, and hatching desperate, crazed plans to start a new life with Ms. Timms across the country in New Mexico.

The secrets of Connor's dark past are slowly revealed to the reader as he becomes further wrapped up in his obsession with Ms. Timms. It's easy for the reader to understand Connor's attraction to her. He's a lonely, troubled kid who has been badly hurt in the past, and along comes a young, beautiful teacher who wants him. While the reader gets hints that Ms. Timms has some very real problems of her own, it's not until the end of the story that we learn just how much she has destroyed Connor through her selfish behavior.

I'm not sure I actually liked this novel, although I found Connor to be a compelling and real character. For me, Connor's relationship with Ms. Timms seemed unnecessarily graphic, leaving the reader feeling exploited and a bit cheapened. The ending also felt rushed, as if after all the buildup there was really no place for the story to go. That's a shame, because there are some thought-provoking moments and interesting characters here.

As I mentioned, this a rather graphic story that also contains lots of harsh language. Consider yourself warned. High school age readers may enjoy this book for its insight into the life of a lonely, confused teenager. Otherwise, it's not an essential read.

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Posted by on May 29, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

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