Good by S. Walden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Get ready to be conflicted while you fall madly in love with the forbidden love story in GOOD!
Cadence has been a good girl her whole life—doing everything her parents and her Christian upbringing told her to do. But one night of wanting to fit in and impress a boy resulted in a ten-month stint in juvenile detention. While cleaning the side of a highway in her bright orange jumpsuit, she meets a gorgeous hipster fixing his flat tire who in that brief encounter treats her like a real and desirable person rather than a criminal. Of course, she never expects to see him again and certainly not on her first day back to school as her high school Calculus teacher.
Besides the fact that GOOD was utterly entertaining and an absolute page-turner, there were so many other things I enjoyed about this book.
It didn’t apologize or make excuses for its content. Cadence wasn’t held back in school and so conveniently an 18-year-old. She was 17. Mark (Mr. Connelly) isn’t a 22-year-old brand new teacher fresh out of college; he’s 28. The two didn’t meet and spend a significant amount of time together before finding out each other’s ages or that they’d be in a teacher/student relationship; they had one brief run-in for a few minutes on the side of a highway. Mr. Connelly doesn’t fight his better judgment for months before finally giving in; he pursues Cadence. So the reader has to decide if they can accept the real, raw circumstances.
Cadence is in a weakened position when she sees Mr. Connelly at school. She feels bullied, abandoned, and more than anything, lonely. Mr. Connelly is in a position of authority and knows that Cadence is desperate for love and acceptance, something she isn’t finding at school or at home. Is he taking advantage of her weakened state to prey on her? As I’ve heard Dr. Phil say on many occasions, at her age is Cadence capable of giving consent? I loved every controversial second of GOOD, even while I questioned it.
I loved that I could completely relate to Cadence as a high schooler. I was once that teenager trying to reconcile the ideals I’d been raised to believe from a lifetime of youth group, church, parents, and school with the reality I was living and the desires I had. I got her—all of her. She is unapologetically 17/18: sheltered, innocent, sometimes immature. And Mark/Mr. Connelly likes that about her. She even calls him Mr. Connelly in her thoughts when she’s at school—something that made me wonder about how she viewed him. To me, calling him Mr. Connelly in her head implied that she saw him as an adult, an authority figure, her teacher.
And yet, despite all of that, despite my misgivings that I never quite let go of, I loved Mark. I wanted him with Cadence. I didn’t want them to be forced apart. I didn’t want them to get caught. I didn’t want him to lose his job or get prosecuted for his actions with a minor (although according to Georgia Law this would not be considered statutory rape anyway, but I was unclear about that going into the story and so worried regardless).
Even Mark’s internal conflict is clear by some of his actions during the story—he was worried about being the one to teach her certain things sexually, had guidelines in place for what he wouldn’t do with her before she turned 18, etc. I doubt those things would save him in the court of public opinion if they were found out, but it seemed to be how he was able to feel okay with their relationship. And he does show her love when no one else does. And care when she’s so desperate for it. She needs him and he truly seems to love and cherish her: all of her. The young girl. The girl who makes mistakes. The girl who sometimes reacts like a high school girl would. He loves all those things. And I in turn loved him.
I would highly recommend GOOD to anyone who feels like they could have an open mind when it comes to forbidden love. I couldn’t put this book down and I’m diving head first into BETTER, the second and final book in this series.
**Copy provided by the author/publisher for an honest review.
**Reviewed by preppea on I ♥ Bookie Nookie Reviews.
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