Where You Are by J.H. Trumble
Review by Lauren
copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own
Want to see what the author thinks of the book cover?
Official Summary: Robert Westfall's life is falling apart--everywhere but in math class.
That's the one place where problems always have a solution. But in the
world beyond high school, his father is terminally ill, his mother is
squabbling with his interfering aunts, his boyfriend is unsupportive,
and the career path that's been planned for him feels less appealing
by the day.
Robert's math teacher, Andrew McNelis, watches his best student
floundering, concerned but wary of crossing the line between
professional and personal. Gradually, Andrew becomes Robert's friend,
then his confidante. As the year progresses, their relationship-in
school and out of it-deepens and changes. And as hard as he tries to
resist, Andrew knows that he and Robert are edging into territory that
holds incalculable risks for both of them.
Review: You can have a favorite book but the rule seems to be that you can't have a favorite author until you've read more than one book by them. J.H. Trumble can now be included on my list of favorite authors, however, because I loved her debut Don't Let Me Go and I fell even more in love with her second novel, Where You Are. I posted my review of Don't Let Me Go almost a year ago today, so it's pretty fitting to now be sharing my thoughts about Trumble's latest.
We are all famililar with stories about teachers having relationships with their students, whether in the news or even in fictional accounts. For the most part, people look down on these relationships and blame the teachers for using their power over a minor. This isn't always the best way to look at a situation though. Every story is unique, whether you want to see it that way or not. In Where You Are, Robert is a teenager who falls for his math teacher, one of the few people he feels he can really talk to. As for Andrew, the teacher, he isn't that much older than Robert, so it's not a creepy older man perving on a teen. Andrew truly cares about Robert and he sees that he's going through a tough time (Robert's father is passing away from a cancer he's had for years) and he wants to be there for him. He isn't sure how he can, though, as he is worried. He knows the risks involved in getting too close to a student.
Both Robert and Andrew find themselves crushing on each other and there is a push and pull throughout the novel concerning their relationship. Robert feels comfortable with Andrew and when he's going through a particularly rough moment, Andrew is the one he wants to see, the person he most wants to talk to. Andrew is flattered by the attention that Robert gives him, but he actually does like him. He knows he's the teacher though and he has to be professional. He tells Robert they need to wait until graduation, as Robert is already a senior.
Obviously, waiting until graduation does not work and the two men suddenly find themselves inching over the line of professional friendship and romantic involvement.
I don't want to go into too much depth about the actual summary of the story because part of the thrill is reading along and wondering, what will they do next? Will their relationship last? Will they both be irrevocably changed by everything they are doing?
Where You Are is a phenomenal book. Trumble knows how to write an LGBT novel that goes beyond the boundaries. Yes, there are people with issues, but for the most part, that doesn't reach the main characters. Andrew and Robert are gay and they are fine with it. They might not have had the best experiences in their lives, but they are happy with who they are and just want to be with the one they love.
If you know you'll go into this book condemning Robert or Andrew, then I probably wouldn't recommend it. Yes, it could change your mind on things or make you think about the situation more, but I still feel like you have to go in being more open-minded. Personally, I think teachers and students are often very close in age and it makes sense that both parties would find themselves attracted to each other. It's not the best idea to start that relationship while one side is the student, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work after they have graduated. Where You Are does present consequences, and not everything is perfect in the end. It's also an ending that left me wanting more (Any chance of a sequel?)
While I would classify Where You Are as an adult novel, it's probably more New Adult. The book goes back and forth between both men's perspectives (which I loved, because it gives you all the insight you need into the motives of the relationship). Robert is a high school senior, but Andrew is in his early twenties, so putting that together, I'm going to say this borders New Adult/Adult. There are sexual moments in the book but nothing overly graphic.
Since this review is already bordering on essay length, I will start to wrap it up. Just know, though, that there is so much more I could say about Where You Are and how much I loved it.
To conclude, however, Where You Are was a novel that deeply affected me. I felt for the characters and I found myself thinking about moments in the book while away from the book. That is always a sure sign a book means something to you; if it's a story that you can't stop thinking about, even now, after finishing it. So, read it, please. And let me know what you think.
Finally, while the author has a playlist in the back of the book, noting songs she feels fit the book's moments, there is one song not included that I wanted to share.
It's called "Somewhere With You" by Shane Mack. Some parts of the song fit the book, while others not so much...regardless, I think the feel of the music/lyrics represents Robert and Anderw quite well.