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In this sexy and intriguing novel, an intense—and passionate—bond between a high school senior and her music teacher becomes a public scandal that threatens the reputation of both.
Bea has a secret.
Actually, she has more than one. There’s her dream for the future that she can’t tell anyone—not her father and not even her best friend, Plum.
And now there’s Dane Rossi. Dane is hot, he shares Bea’s love of piano, and he believes in her.
He’s also Bea’s teacher.
When their passion for music crosses into passion for each other, Bea finds herself falling completely for Dane. She’s never felt so wanted, so understood, so known to her core. But the risk of discovery carries unexpected surprises that could shake Bea entirely. Bea must piece together what is and isn’t true about Dane, herself, and the most intense relationship she’s ever experienced in this absorbing novel from Nancy Ohlin, the author of Beauty.
About the Author
Nancy Ohlin is the author of Consent; Always, Forever; and Beauty. She is also the author of the Shai & Emmie series with Quevenzhané Wallis. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Nancy divided her time between there and Ohio. She received a BA in English from the University of Chicago, and she lives in Ithaca, New York, with her family. Learn more at NancyOhlin.com.
When Dane Rossi, ayoung English pianist substitute-teaching Bea's music-appreciation class, hearsBea play, he insists she could have a career as a concert pianist and urges herto apply to his alma mater, Juilliard, even as their intense, mutual attractioncomplicates her choices. Bea's mother went to Juilliard and also dreamed ofbecoming a concert pianist, but she died giving birth to Bea, who's sure herfather and older brother hold her responsible. Entirely self-taught, Bea's kepther dreams secret. Now, blossoming under Dane's guidance, she accepts his offerto introduce her to his Juilliard mentor, a great pianist. But when herrelationship with Dane takes a turn toward intimacy on their trip to New York,she's both confused and thrilled. The story's strongest when it focuses on thisrelationship, honoring its complexity and neither oversimplifying it nordemonizing either of them. While that's deftly handled, other plot pointsstrain credulity. Readers will have difficulty buying Bea's near perfection asa classical pianist given that her only instruction has been "from booksand online and stuff." After all, a crucial element of classical musicaltraining is feedback from teachers on student performance. While Bea's familyis underdeveloped, her deep guilt at having been born seems more than a tadoverblown. A compassionate but clearsighted look at student-teacher liaisons,somewhat diminished by an over-the-top plot setup.
— Kirkus Reviews
Gr 9 Up–Between all of the lies she tells at school about her nonexistent piano teacher and her supposedly okay home life, Beatrice Kim has a lot of secrets even before starting her senior year at Andrew Jackson High School. Then Bea meets her music history teacher. Mr. Rossi is young and good-looking and completely believes in Bea’s potential as a professional pianist—something Bea hasn’t ever allowed herself to consider. When their shared passion for music turns into something else, Bea and Rossi begin a sexual relationship that could ruin them both. Bea thinks she knows what she is doing and what she wants. She thinks Rossi understands her and loves her. But with the threat of discovery looming, she will have to confront uncomfortable truths about herself and her relationship.This work, reminiscent of Sara Zarr’s The Lucy Variations (Little,Brown, 2013), explores how Bea lost her love for the piano and how she can reclaim it. It also is an often uncomfortable examination of a relationship that never should have happened. Despite the problems Bea hints at in her home life and the lies she tells, everything comes very easily to her. She is at the top of her class despite having no real interest in college. She is a piano prodigy with perfect pitch, although she has never had formal lessons. She is conveniently at a recently rebranded “Campus for Baccalaureate and Performing Arts,” despite having a nearly pathological desire to avoid the piano at the beginning of the novel. Readers who can get past these contrivances will be rewarded with a layered and thoughtful contemporary novel. The push and pull between what is perceived and what is true throughout the narrative adds another dimension to the unreliable first-person narration as readers and Bea contemplate Rossi’s agenda. VERDICT Despite some heavy-handed moments, Ohlin delivers an open-ended novel ripe for discussion as readers follow the plot’s twists and turns.
— School Library Journal
An insecure piano prodigy falls for her dashing music teacher in Ohlin’s contemporary novel. Seventeen-year-old Bea is used to pretending. She pretends her workaholic father cares about her. She pretends enthusiasm for her best friend Plum’s plan for them to attend Harvard together. She pretends her piano playing is just a hobby, and she’s already labeled her dream of attending a conservatory as unattainable. Dane Rossi, her handsome new music teacher, changes all that. Having attended Juilliard and toured Europe as a pianist, Dane recognizes Bea’s talent and encourages her to develop it. Bea blossoms under his tutelage; it seems inevitable that she’ll fall in love, as “accidental” touches progress into passionate kisses and, eventually, sex. Seen from Bea’s naive viewpoint, the book reads almost like a romance, but readers will wonder about Dane’s past long before Bea does, giving the story an uncomfortable edge. Bea learns about “age of consent” the hard way yet gains self-confidence by the story’s end. A morally complex novel good for discussions with older students.
“Consent is as delicate, as profound and as subtle as the music that gifted young pianist Beatrice plays in moments of near-mystical inspiration. Nancy Ohlin tackles a very delicate subject with so much wisdom, so much clear-eyed honesty, and such a deft touch that I was blown away. A quick read you can’t put down.”
— Michael Grant, bestselling author of GONE
Beais a piano prodigy with dark secrets hidden behind a façade of normalcy, and as she enters her senior year she begins to feel isolated by her lies. When her dashing music history teacher encourages her talent, it is almost inevitable that she will fall in love with him. He falls for her, too, and they develop a relationship that skitters around the edges of appropriateness. With college application deadlines looming, he encourages her to play for Julliard. Buoyed by his affection, she agrees, and they go to New York for a weekend. There, they consummate their affair and plan a future together. Upon their return home,they try to avoid each other until after Bea’s eighteenth birthday, but ultimately succumb to their desires and have a tryst in a school music room. They are observed and reported by Bea’s jealous ex, and it is uncovered that Mr. Rossi has had affairs with students at previous teaching engagements.
Consent gives teens a safe space to explore their feelings about difficult issues without moralizing or underestimating their capacity for complexity. High school students will be simultaneously swept off their feet and horrified by the romance taking shape. The arbitrary nature of state consent laws is examined, as are the emotional ramifications of having an affair with someone who is abusing their authority. This book will appeal to teens who enjoy dark realism and romance. The inclusion of music history anecdotes and multi-cultural characters adds welcome layers of depth.—Liz Sundermann.