A wholesome romance about a 1960s teenager who falls in love with her math teacher.
Debut novelist Hill presents a spot-on heroine in Sarah Thompson, every varsity letterman’s dream girl. A local policeman’s daughter, Sarah is beautiful, kind, popular and utterly unattainable. Her mother suffers a chronic illness, leaving Sarah to function as both mother and daughter, preparing meals and looking after her father and younger sister. Despite the weight of her responsibilities, Sarah makes top grades and outperforms her peers in every subject except math. Her 11th-grade algebra instructor, new faculty member Travis Hall, makes everything even more complicated. Travis only accepted a teaching job on Long Island after an auto accident ended his military career on the eve of his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He never expected to find somebody like Sarah Thompson—heart-stoppingly beautiful but much too fragile and much too young. He invests himself in advancing her mathematical skills as a way of channeling his feelings in a permissible direction. As the narration shifts from Sarah’s point of view to Travis’ and back again, readers learn that each character is ignorant of the other’s feelings. By the school year’s end, Travis helps Sarah pass his class and her state algebra exam. Unfortunately, personal tragedy suddenly calls him to his family home in Arizona, and it seems he may be out of Sarah’s life forever. After Travis’ departure, neither he nor Sarah is able to forget the affair that never started. Through straightforward, accessible prose, Hill tells a sweet story of two painfully honorable individuals unwilling to compromise their dreams of true love. Heavy on basic math concepts and light on steamy sex scenes, the book leaves almost everything to the imagination. Given the high school setting and its simple structure, the story would be appropriate for both young adults and mature readers who are interested in deep personal connections based on shared values.
An uplifting, modest tale of algebra and second chances.