Now I Know It's Not My Fault
by Laurie B. Levine
Publication Date: October 24, 2016
Publisher: Laurie B. Levine
Genre: Coming of Age | Abuse
Print Length: 352 pages
Alexandra Geller is a bright, underachieving fourteen-year-old coming of age in the big hair 1980’s. Alex is from an accomplished, well-educated family. The sudden death of her mother five years ago, and her relationship with her well-meaning but emotionally unavailable father, leaves her unmoored and vulnerable as she tries to figure out who she is. Early in her freshman year, she’s befriended by Paula Hanover, a young, attractive science teacher at her high school. Paula’s irreverence and charm attracts the attention of the girls, who look up to her, and the boys, who have crushes on her. Alex is thrilled to be chosen by this woman and relishes the feeling of finally “belonging” to a mother figure. Paula’s intentions aren’t so benevolent, as she slowly and carefully draws Alex into a relationship designed to meet her own needs, not Alex’s. Desperate for maternal attention, Alex finds ways to ignore the vague sense that something is wrong. Her compelling story sheds light on a common, but rarely talked about kind of trauma which is subtle, and occurs under the radar.
Now I Know It's Not My Fault by Laure B. LevineAlex’s home life was dysfunctional. Since her mother’s death, her father, while unable to give her the emotional support she needs, is there physically, only. He was only able to focus on her school success, and it was all he had to give. Smart, talented, independent-thinking, Alex’s biggest shield to hide behind was her attitude, but being a young teen floundering without parental guidance or boundaries, she was a prime target for Paula Hanover, science teacher.
Pretty, almost like a teen herself, Paula was almost every student’s idol. For her to give the attention-starved Alex the time of day had Alex grasping for every morsel of maternal attention she gave. Was their relationship healthy or had it crossed the line of propriety? What started as a blessing to Alex soon became a nightmare of reward and punishment as Paula uses her position of trust from Alex to further deplete Alex’s fragile self-respect.
Predators come in all shapes and sizes. Child abuse does, too and while Paula is NOT sexually overt with Alex, she slowly strips this young teen of her sense of self-worth, while creating a more devastating need for parental attention. We send our children to school to be educated in “book learning,” the positive sides of life, the ones most parents try to instill at home, but when a trusted adult undermines a child’s trust for their own sick needs, who will stand up for the child? Who will say, this has gone too far? If we cannot trust an educator, who can we trust? Mental illness comes in all forms, but to expose innocents to an unstable educator, we can only rely on that child having a place to come forward and share. For Alex, there was no place to turn to. Her peers are not equipped to recognize what may be wrong. Further the fear of crying wolf over nothing is a huge deterrent.
Laurie B. Levine tackles an ugly secret and lays bare a raw and despicable relationship preying on a young child in crisis. NOW I KNOW ITS NOT MY FAULT is a gut churning look at one child and her need for love and attention. Ask yourself, who let her down first? Who is to blame? Who will protect the children? If not all of us, this form of abuse will continue and more children will become victims whose scars may never heal. Well-written, realistic and deeply intricate, Alex lives in a world where she feels like an outcast, a lonely soul lost in a scary world.
Moving, dark and an uncomfortable read, this is the reality of life for many. Keep in mind that abuse is not only sexual, but can be just as devastating if not more. Highly recommended.
I received this copy from Laurie B. Levine in exchange for my honest review.