Two a.m. and everyone else is asleep, except me. I’ve just finished Good and I’m not sure what to do with myself. I laid in bed for quite a while trying to sort out how I felt about what I had just read. Conflicted? Definitely. Uncomfortable? Absolutely. Emotionally distraught? That pretty much sums it up. I had weird dreams and woke up feeling off balance. Even after sleeping on my thoughts, I’m still not sure where I stand. I want to root for Mark. I want him to be the good guy – I’m just not sure he is a good guy. He shows glimpses of being the stand-up guy – and I want to hang on to those moments. But then he makes choices that make me question who he truly is, if he has any morals at all, and it makes me wonder what has happened to him in the past to get him to the point he is now. Something has to have driven him to make the choices he’s making, because these are choices that will cause him to lose everything he’s ever worked for or accomplished in life. This novel doesn’t just push the envelope; it rips the envelope open and sets it on fire, leaving you to question your own morals and how you can possibly root for two people to be together when everything you’ve ever been taught tells you that this is so, so wrong.
Cadence Miller is 17, fresh out of “juvie” for making a series of bad choices which alter her entire life. She was a church going, part-time working, Junior in High School who wanted to try something new and ended up paying for it with 10 months in Juvenile Hall. Returning to finish her Senior year of High School is painful. Let’s face it; kids can be damn cruel at that age. Cadence is tormented with being called names and bullied. She finds friendship and support with her math teach, Mr. Connelly – aka Mark.
Yep – THAT Mark. Queue the uncomfortable WTH feelings. Right away I’m sure you’re thinking he’s a predator. That’s what I assumed. I’m not entirely convinced he is one and I hope I can properly convey to you why I don’t think he’s a bad guy.
First, he doesn’t pursue Cadence in a creepy stalkerish way. He is kind to Cadence in very simple, non-flirty ways. He brings her lunch when he’s noticed that she hasn’t eaten in days. He gives her his handkerchief when he finds her crying because the bullies have struck again. He seems concerned for Cadence, as anyone would be when watching someone go through such a hard time trying to readjust.
Second, he doesn’t admit to having any kind of feelings for Cadence until he’s pressured to admit them by Cadence herself. I think he would have kept them to himself had she not pushed him. You can feel how conflicted he is by admitting any of it to her. But he’s the adult and he should have stopped it, right? I don’t honestly know because their attraction seems to be more than just physical. They seem to have something more, like their paths were meant to cross.
The third thing that convinces me that he’s not all that bad is that he doesn’t pressure anything sexual to happen. In fact, Cadence pressures him! I would expect in a situation like this, you’d be thinking the guy just wanted to get a young chick in the sack, but I don’t believe that’s what he’s after. They do become intimate and for the most part, I was okay with that. But there is an instance where Mark makes me want to punch him in his manly parts. I won’t spoil it for the readers but I’ll just say the closet was a horrible choice and, quite frankly, made me really upset. Had this not been a student/teacher relationship, I probably would have thought it was hot. But in this case, it just was too much.
My biggest issue with their whole relationship was how innocent Cadence was, sexually. The girl was so shy she couldn’t even talk about things with him. How he didn’t see her embarrassment as a sign that she wasn’t ready for any of this, really bothered me. We aren’t talking about a 17 year old girl who has been around the block and knows what’s she’s getting herself into. Cadence is naïve, scared of sinning and lying to her parents. She sweeps those fears aside in an attempt to make things work with Mark, until all hell breaks loose. A secret like this eventually gets found out and when it does, it gets ugly.
Good is the first book in the Too Good series. The second and final book, Better, comes out November 19th and I can guarantee you I’ll be reading it on publication day. I want Mark to redeem himself. I want to know where he’s coming from, why he’s chosen this path. I want to know that he’s going to fix the mess he’s made. I want Mark to be a good guy.
My rating: 5 extremely conflicted stars
You can purchase Good by S. Walden on Amazon
About the Author:
Jen loves to read. She can’t stop herself. It’s become an obsession. She is in love with her husband, kids, iced coffee and books. Jen lives in beautiful Colorado but is originally from the West Coast.