Smart girls aren’t supposed to do stupid things.
Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she’s so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He’s cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she’s endured – and missed out on – in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she’s falling in love.
There’s only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn’s college professor, and he thinks she’s eighteen – because she hasn’t told him the truth.
The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet – both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
The Truth About You and Me is one of those books that you have to get into the mindset in order to read it. I had such mixed feelings going into this one. The student-teacher aspect of this book appealed to me, but at the same time I didn’t want to pick it up since I knew how this book would end. Still, figuring it was a pretty short read, I decided to go for it.
One thing I hadn’t really realized before starting this book was that it’s told in 2nd POV–which was both strange and at times confusing. From the very beginning you know Madelyn and Bennet are not together–she’s actually writing him letters to both apologize to him and clear his name. Knowing the outcome of Madelyn and Bennet’s story made it that much more harder to read, because as I read their story, I started rooting for them and their happily-ever-after.
Madelyn is 16 years old. Bennet is 26. The ten year age different is a lot, but once you start reading, and hearing Madelyn’s voice, you realize that she’s older than her years. While her parents are a present figure in her life, they’ve spent most of Madelyn’s childhood years shaping her to be this Little Einstein. The pressure Madelyn’s parents put on her isn’t the kind of pressure a young girl should have, so you understand why she “rebels.” Madelyn’s gone along with everything her parents say, but little by little you start to see her change. It’s in these moments that I wished the book was told solely in 1st person. I feel like these changes would have been much more impacting to read if we would have experienced them along with her, not after it’s already happened. Still, I was glad Madelyn started thinking and making some choices for herself, not her parents.
As Madelyn writes to Bennet she gives him reasons as to why she didn’t tell him the truth from the beginning, and she recounts scenes in which they’re together. These were truly bittersweet moments. Reading and experiencing their relationship blossom brought both a smile to my face and a pang to my heart. At the same time I wished I was experiencing these firsts kisses, butterflies, etc. along with Madelyn instead of being told about them. And while Madelyn and Bennet’s relationship wasn’t this full-blown hot, passionate affair, it was sweet and made me long for so much more. When they finally get together, it’s everything I could have wished for Madelyn’s first time.
In turn, the aftermath was heartbreaking to read–from Bennet’s fast departure, to Madelyn’s unanswered questions about his whereabouts. Even more bittersweet was their reunion two years later. On one hand I understood why Grace decided with this ending, but at the same time, I was, once again, hoping for more. I guess that’s why it makes Madelyn and Bennet’s story so realistic: the couple doesn’t always end up together, and while I know that’s true, it was still difficult to read. The ending does have a final tone to it, but at the same time I hope they meet five, even ten years later, and rekindle their romance.