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The idea that a writer can create an infinite number of worlds has captivated Rachel McIntyre since she was a small child. Having parents who filled the house with books meant she grew up surrounded with stories and she has carried this passion with her throughout life. Rachel studied English Literature at university and has taught English in Spain and the USA as well as the UK. While writing Me & Mr J she worked in a sixth form college in northern England, where she was reminded every day that young adults love reading and need fiction that explores the day-to-day challenges they face.
February 2015 NewGen Debut of the Month. Lara is having a tough time at home: her dad’s business has gone bust, money is very tight, her parents argue constantly. Sensing her misery the girls at school begin a campaign of bullying that gets progressively nastier. The only bright spot is her new English teacher, young, handsome, on Lara’s side. To her delight, their relationship develops into something other than pupil teacher, a disastrous course for both. If this sounds bleak, it’s anything but. Lara is – as Mr J recognises – smart and funny, a narrator with an extremely appealing voice. Their relationship is sensitively described, and while no-one comes out of it unscathed, it ends on a hopeful note. An impressive YA debut, this is a book to make you think, with characters that will stay with you after the final page. ~ Andrea Reece Author Rachel McIntyre says: "When I began “Me and Mr J”, I was fortunate enough to be teaching in a fantastic sixth form college and my inspiration came from a news story dominating the headlines. A girl running away with a teacher? My students were so fascinated and their opinions so varied and passionate, I knew I just had to write about it." Read on.... And from fellow YA author, Lisa Heathfield, the author of debut novel Seed (publishing April 15):Once in a while, a book comes along that stops me in my tracks. It bulldozes through my thoughts, sneaks into conversations and has me reading in the bath until the water has gone cold. ME & MR J is one of these rare books. The premise is current and controversial, with a pupil/teacher relationship at its core. So, I knew it would be interesting and I knew it would be thought-provoking (it was definitely both of these), but what I didn't predict was how really, really funny it would be. The book is written in diary-form, therefore, we're absolutely in Lara's world from the word go. And it's a world I often wished I could drag her away from. The scenes of school-bullying are hard-hitting and increasingly painful to read. You want to rage at the injustice of it. And run to every school in the country and sweep up every victim away from it all. McIntyre shows incredible skill in presenting the complexities of bullying culture and how (especially with the prevalence of the internet), it can be utterly devastating for the person being targeted. Lara faces it all with her trademark humour, but as her parents' marriage crumbles, you can feel her ability to cope slowly slip away. She needs just a chink of light to help her through her days. And in walks Mr J. Mr Jagger is gorgeous, kind, intelligent, understanding - everything that Lara would want in a boyfriend. There's one almighty glitch though. He's her new teacher. And he'd never cross that line, would he? Would he?! Much of the strength of this novel is the way it pulls your emotions in opposite directions. You're willing Lara and Mr J to fight off their feelings, but then without wanting to, you're somehow wishing they won't get caught. Then reality kicks in again and you're shouting at the book 'But you're her teacher!' You so want Lara to be happy, but you don't want it to be this way. Rachel McIntyre's debut put me through the emotional wringer. Yet I loved it. Maybe it was the pace, maybe it was Lara's fantastic, vivid character, or maybe I just find it fascinating how pupil/teacher relationships ever cross that line. A definite, shining five stars from me.