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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.