Lessons in Love

Romance - Contemporary
164 Pages
Reviewed on 09/09/2015
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Author Biography

I've been an avid reader and writer since my earliest school days. Reading was my first and earliest passion that I can remember, often seeking the safe sanctuary of my room or the library to read everything I could. My favorite has always been romance. I penned romantic poetry in high school and was winning school awards for my short stories at 16. In college I would hibernate in the library for days at a time, consuming every short story and novel I could find. My diploma says Bachelors in English Lit., which I'm very proud of.

I probably drink too much coffee and eat too much junk food, but to compensate do like running outdoors when the weather is nice. I love shopping in the mall even if I never find what I'm looking for. I'm a hopeful romantic who prefers stories with a happy ending. You can often find me in a coffee shop either working on my next story, or with my nose in a book.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Lessons in Love is a contemporary young adult romance/coming of age novel written by Clarissa Carlyle. Alex Heron is the captain of the Woodsdale High School Cheerleaders. It was a hard-won position challenged by Sophie Walker, who is not at all satisfied with her role as the vice-captain. The breezy and self-assured blond cheerleader captain, Alex Heron, whose polish and poise during cheerleading is only exceeded by her studied disinterest in getting good grades, is really a defensive persona created by Alexandra Heron. When she was fourteen years old, life was very different. She was a gifted young mathematician and violinist, attending an elite private school and the apple of her father’s eye until that awful day when he was shot in a convenience store as she watched on in horrified silence. At that moment, and in the aftermath where it was discovered that the family was heavily burdened with debt, Alexandra and her family’s lives changed forever. The large house with its lovely grounds was sold off as were most of their possessions, and the three of them moved into a trailer in the bad part of town. No one could know about her secret or realize her lost dreams for going on to college after high school, until a new mathematics teacher came into her classroom.

Clarissa Carlyle’s young adult novel, Lessons in Love, is a perceptive and compassionate tale about how a young woman’s drive and academic goals get subverted in the wake of tragedy. Peer pressure and bullying figure largely in this story as Alex is compelled to remake herself and hide from even her closest friends the truth about her living conditions. I enjoy young adult novels, particularly coming of age stories, and was very impressed with Lessons in Love. Carlyle’s characters are well-defined and realistically complicated, especially Alex, her brother and her mother, and the writing style is smooth, fluid and assured. This is a sweet romance and, while listed as a contemporary romance, is suitable for both new and young adults. Lessons in Love has a feel-good and compelling plot that could easily be made into a movie. It’s most highly recommended.

Hilary Hawkes

Lessons in Love by Clarissa Carlyle is the story of a young/first love. Alex Heron, age eighteen, is still in her final year at High School. Her facade of not being interested in her studies, and her attachment to her image of being Captain of the senior cheerleaders, hides her true nature and the secret traumatic life changing experiences of her past. At fourteen, Alex witnessed something sad and horrific and her family (her mother and younger brother) lost their nice life style and Alex her private education. Woodsdale School students tend to have low aspirations and Alex just wants to fit in. Then the new math teacher, 25-year-old, Mark Simmons arrives on the scene and a slow and largely respectful, although inappropriate, relationship develops between the two. Alex confides the truth about herself and her past to Mark and, with his encouragement, begins to become her real self again, aiming for scholarship at Princeton.

Clarissa Carlyle's story is written in an uncomplicated style. The plot moves along at a good pace as the story explores what could happen when a young teacher and eighteen-year-old pupil fall in love with each other. They know this is a violation of trust and boundaries - but, of course, feelings are feelings, and they know to hold back until Alex finishes school. I liked the character of Alex. Her need to fit in and hide her true self was both sad but understandable. I was slightly disappointed that dropping her facade didn't result in one or two like-minded new friends at school for her as this would have been an interesting discovery for Alex. A gentle and positive story about facing and coming to terms with trauma and finding a love that enables healing and eventually moving forward in a healthy way.