Author: Eva Márquez
Genre: YA Romance/Coming of Age
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Blurb: 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. (more)
This story is one that is most certainly not for everyone. Obviously the content is controversial, however I believe that Eva Márquez wrote with an honest and delicate hand, allowing the reader to experience something from a point of view we would never normally have.
In the opening pages, Eva expresses how this story is inspired by a true story - that of her mother. A woman whom she has the utmost respect and love for. This isn't a story glorifying the relationship between a married high school teacher and student, but one of discovery, heartbreak, healing, and learning to believe in yourself through and through.
This book begins with a 15-year-old girl, Isabel, having a crush on her lead swim coach, Mr. Stevens. After quite some time daydreaming about what it would be like for Mr. Stevens to notice her, Isabel is surprised and excited when he finally does - by handing her favorite towel to her after practice. This obviously means that he's been watching her before and after practice because one, he's aware of where she puts her swim-bag and two, he knows which towel is her favorite.
What begins as an innocent crush soon begins building into more when Mr. Stevens invites Isabel to his classroom after practice - and that is when she begins calling him Tom.
The intimacy between Tom and Isabel is slow building and respectful while still remaining slightly disturbing and uncomfortable. Even in the most innocent moments, I worried for this young girl's heart and the pain to come with the end of this relationship.
Isabel does prove mature for her years, debating the choices she's making and always thinking that she and Tom would come to an end for one reason or another. She never played the victim and stood strong for her beliefs throughout. Even the "love" discussion was honest and straightforward, refreshingly so. These reasons and more helped develop respect for Isabel's character.
Tom, even when he was the "perfect gentleman," did give me a bit of the creeps. Although his character was nothing but respectful and open with Isabel, it was difficult for me to not imagine my father or husband making such a "terrible" decision. However, Tom's love for Isabel will surprise the reader and take you places that you are surprised to be. I found myself really feeling sorry for him one moment and then wanting to smack Isabel for continuing their relationship.
There was so much to this story that I enjoyed reading. The realness of these characters just jumps off of the page and engrosses the reader from the first chapter. I even enjoyed the perspectives of Isabel's friends - especially Liz who was hilarious and amazingly supportive.
Overall, this is a story that allows the reader to delve deep into an issue that occurs much more frequently than what's on the news. I am so happy that I added this book to my bookshelf, and would most definitely suggest this read to anyone with an open-mind for understanding and development.
*Thank you so much to Eva Márquez for providing me with an ARC copy of Sweetest Taboo in return for my honest review.*