Teach Me’s premise is a riff on May-December romances, with the newly out Austin Pritchard, literally thrown to the curb by his family, and David Becker, a new hire college professor in his dream job, building his dream house and sporting a penchant for rescuing the lost.
All you need to know about Austin is that he’s a twenty-year-old privileged boy with a tendency to whine about everything, yet he’s also willing to work hard and find a way to stay in school. David is a thirty-five-year-old academic, teaching sociology, and comes from a background of impoverishment which he apparently overcame and is now living a life of privilege.
David likes to save, Austin doesn’t feel he needs saving: entitlement meet father-knows-best.
I wanted to like this story in the worst sort of way. Austin’s not a bad kid—irritating, yes, and way immature for his age—and David is equally annoying, dispensing psychobabble wisdom (to
himself and whoever will listen) yet maintaining a solid position on the fence when it comes to taking his own advice (and he seems to sport an endless supply).
The problem with Teach Me is that you need to suspend disbelief to the breaking point. The dialog is straight out of a grad student after-hours get-together, the timeline jumps in irregular bursts, the backstories for both David and Austin simply don’t add up, more research was needed on how academia actually works (tenure is earned so David is a new hire, not a tenured professor) and the complicated side stories and minor characters don’t make much sense. Nor does the finale with the mother, sister, the sister’s boyfriend and the confrontation with the father.
Being abandoned by your family and finding yourself on the street is a shock, but Austin comes at his misfortune with the baggage of someone who’s spent a lifetime struggling with mental and emotional disorders. It simply doesn’t add up. Nor does the relationship with David for whom homophobia seems never to have been an issue.
Teach Me is filled with mixed and confusing messages, and barely touches on the real causes for homelessness and how society has failed its most vulnerable. One could argue that’s not the point to the story, but I’d beg to differ: it’s exactly on point because of David’s and Austin’s never-ending ruminations on the state of their misfortunes, their relationship, and the general preachiness of most of what comes out of everyone’s mouth.
As a love story—after removing all the inconsistencies and overlooking serious character flaws and their unlikeability—there’s still enough there to keep a romance reader engaged. The story is told from first POV, which works reasonably well, but there are some tense issues that confuse the narrative flow—other than that there are few typos which is refreshing.
For a recommendation, I’m on the fence with this one. The actual conflict level is low, the boyish angst is high, and David may or may not strike you as stodgy (he “reads” like a fifty-year-old man). The HEA is there, but couched as an academic success story rather than a conclusion to an emotional journey.
If you like romance and your characters overthinking every emotion, every action, every implication… you might like Teach Me. As they say, your mileage may vary.
Two words stripped Austin Pritchard of the privileged life he’s used to. The moment he uttered the words, “I’m gay,” he realized there is no such thing as unconditional love. Now, he’s gone from traveling the world with his family to living on the streets trying to figure out how he’s going to stay in school.
A chance opportunity changes everything. Austin impresses the foreman and lands a job, but even more, he catches the eye of David Becker, who is determined to teach him that true love doesn’t come with strings.
The only thing David had as a child was love. His family struggled to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. That has driven him to stay focused on his goals; become a tenured professor at a university and save enough money to build a home of his own. It’s not until he sees an insecure college student working on his new house that he realizes that he hasn’t planned on someone to share his life with. He’s about to learn that everything he’s already accomplished is nothing compared to the task of making Austin see that he is worthy of love.