From Goodreads: Smart girls aren’t supposed to do stupid things. Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she’s so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennett. He’s cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she’s endured – and missed out on – in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she’s falling in love. There’s only one problem. Bennett is Madelyn’s college professor, and he thinks she’s eighteen – because she hasn’t told him the truth. The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennett – both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
I’ve read and enjoyed a few of Mandy Hubbard’s books now, and this Amanda Grace novel is by far my favorite. It felt very, very real to me — perhaps because it’s set in a town that neighbors the one I grew up in, or perhaps because I share a few of main character Maddie’s personality traits. The Truth About You & Me is a story of forbidden romance, one with a spin I haven’t seen before, and I think it’s incredibly well done. Here’s what I loved most:
- The story’s format… The Truth About You & Me is written in 2nd person, as an after-the-fact apology letter from Maddie to Bennett, which had the potential to come across as awkward and tiresome. It did not. “Maddie” writes her letters in a style that’s clear and stark, in a voice that’s teenish, but never childish. Such a smooth read.
- Madelyn herself… Though I certainly do not agree with her choice to deceive Bennett, Maddie somehow managed to win me over. She’s incredibly intelligent, though naive, and I could relate to her overachieving tendencies. I could feel how torn she was when it came to Bennett, and how much she cared for him. I believe that she really loved him — that she truly wanted it to work — which makes her decision-making process a little easier to understand.
- Bennett Cartwright… He’s a doll. I still can’t decide if he was genuinely duped by Maddie, or if he chose to turn a blind eye to certain clues because he liked her, but again, he made me believe that his feelings were genuine and he very much earned my sympathies, especially toward the end of the novel.
- Time… It’s extraordinarily important in this story, and its passage made both Maddie and Bennett more likeable, and more transparent. It gave their relationship depth, and showed how invested they were in each other, even though, thanks to Maddie’s letters, we know their romance is destined for collapse.
- That scene at the cabin… If you’ve read The Truth About You & Me, you know the one I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll know this scene when you get there. Guys… It is SO intense, in the very best — and very worst — ways. It’s steamy and emotional and heartbreaking, and everything in between. It’s incredible.
- The conclusion… Sure, I wanted a different ending for Madelyn and Bennett, but the way their story wrapped up was right and real and true. It cemented the book’s themes of love and honesty and consequence, but it made me feel hopeful about Maddie and Bennett’s futures.
The Truth About You & Me makes me want to run out and buy the Amanda Grace novels I’ve yet to read. I truly loved this one, and if you like romantic contemporary YA that’s not all black and white, I think you will too.
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