Sunday, February 20, 2011

Still the One by Kathryn Shay

Annie Jacobs has made something of herself after a rough adolescence. She’s the mother of twin boys, a respected and well-liked English teacher and has good friends. But when her former high school teacher, Dylan Kane, comes back to town, Annie’s carefully created world starts to crumble. She and Dylan have a past, one which almost destroyed her. Now, he wants to be the next principal of her school. Annie’s afraid their previous relationship will endanger the job she loves. She’s even more fearful that her feelings for Dylan will rekindle, or worse, never died.

At the root of this book is a very controversial idea - a high school student and teacher falling in love. And while many (including myself) view this as completely taboo, I can appreciate that most teachers are in their early to mid twenties when they start, and high school kids can be 18. That's not a huge age difference. (In a TMI aside, I became great friends w/ a new teacher at my high school in my senior year, and he was HOT. He wasn't my teacher, and I definitely wouldn't have minded something happening, although it never did. As far as I know, it was completely one-sided on my part).

Annie was an 18 year old senior when she fell in love with her English teacher, 24 year old Dylan. He returned the emotion, but refused to act on it. When Annie pushed him to act, he left his job and moved away in order to keep his integrity intact. The story takes place 20 years later, when they meet again. Dylan is interviewing for the high school principal position, and Annie is now the English teacher. Dylan is unaware of what his leaving did to Annie, and she is too scared to take the risk of loving him again, having lost him once, and having lost her husband in Iraq. Plus, she has twin 8 year old sons to look after.

Kathryn Shay never shies away from tough or controversial subject matter. I thought all the issues in this book were handled with care, and ably so. She made both characters immensely appealing, so I was really rooting for them to make it work. It was as difficult for the reader to find a way out of their predicament as it was for Annie and Dylan. But Shay comes up with the perfect (and only, IMO) solution available to them.

The only things that keep this from being a 5 star read for me are the overtly jealous and almost evil former classmate of Annie's, and wondering why Annie was so adamant about staying in a town where she was faced with such animosity from some folks. I think had the book been a little longer, this may have been addressed, but a revelation on why it was so important to her would have helped me to understand.

Plus, there is that uncomfortable feeling of reading about a taboo subject and finding yourself feeling ok about it. That was very strange. It was only that Dylan refused to acknowledge his feelings for Annie to her back in the day and left town in order to keep from acting on those feelings that give credibility to the plot. It was handled in about the only way Shay could have to make it acceptable. And she does, amazingly.

Shay is self-publishing this series via Smashwords. I gave this book 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads.


  1. I was worry that the fact she was 18 would make them think it was okay. Glad that didn't happen and he moved away instead. To me, if she's in high school, she's off limits to teachers.

    I do like second chance stories and the dynamics of them now working together as adults.

    Thanks for the review! You keep adding to my Kathryn Shay list. :)

  2. Yeah. It was a strange thing to feel ok about it. I read the back story with a lot of angst, worrying that somehow it would be "ok" that the teacher and student fell in love, but that never happened. Having him move away and never acknowledging his feelings outwardly were what rescued the book, and it really was the only way to have it happen.

  3. Very interesting topic actually. I think that for me, as I don't have any kids, I wouldn't mind too much. Like you say, the age difference is not much :( However, I understand why it is taboo and I'm so glad Dylan kept his integrity.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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