All Leila wants is to get through her senior year at her new high school without drawing undue attention. Not that she has any big secret to protect, but her unconventional upbringing has made her very private. At seventeen, she realizes just how odd it was that two men raised her-one black, one white-and no mother. Not to mention they were blues musicians, always on the move. When her father died, he left her with a fear of foster care and a plan that would help her fall between the cracks of the system. Three teachers make that impossible - the handsome track coach, her math teacher from hell, and a jealous gym instructor. Compromising situations, accusations of misconduct, and judicial hearings put Leila's autonomy and even her dignity at risk, unless she learns to trust an unlikely ally.
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A Compelling Story
Yes, the characters were well developed and the plot moved along at a comfortable pace.
Although this story has a young-adult character, Leila, the feel of the story is more adult. Set in Leila’s senior year of high school, on her own after the death of her father and in a new environment, Leila struggles with her artistic bent, plays blues piano with a bunch of Delta blues octogenarians every Saturday night, and runs as a way of coping with her a past that is quickly catching up to her. Throw into the mix her unconventional relationships with two male teachers, and I was surprised at how thoroughly engrossed I—an adult male—became in the life of a seventeen-year-old girl.
I enjoyed the switches in point of view, from Leila to Ian Brigham (the handsome and conflicted track coach) to Mr. Clarence Myles (the enigmatic math teacher). While it is a of high school setting, Chicoine focuses enough on the ‘internal’ life of her characters, providing a well-rounded story with impressive character developments. Chicoine’s stories tend to unfold gradually—organically—at the start, but soon escalate with crazy twists and turns that kept me turning pages. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Portrait of a Protégé!
There were a lot of emotional high points and the narrator carried them out with skill.