“We need an anti-movie, too.”
“Define the terms.”
He quirks his mouth to the side. “Corny lines, unrealistic plot.”
So…basically what this book was?
I don’t know where to begin with this one, to be honest. From the very first chapter, this book was just plagued with terrible writing and never once did it let up. The main character was awful both in personality and in her own development. The author requires readers to simply take the characters and the events of the story on blind faith that it would actually happen. And it was all just so disgustingly unrealistic.
There is legitimately nothing likable about Ellery as a character. While her reasons for being suicidal are believable, there is little about her that gives the plot any substance. All potential for the story to go well lies in the character of Colter Sawyer, a well meaning kid (who somehow works as a security guard at K-Mart while still in high school?) that catches her trying to return a gun (to the wrong store–which only brings up more that the reader must accept blindly) on the night she attempted suicide.
Now, there are many occasions in fiction where a reader must suspend their belief and understanding of the world for the story to work and I would never disparage this as a literary device, but it has to be done well. In Teach Me to Forget it simply isn’t used well. Colter’s place in the story had great potential, right up until he a) gave Ellery time to get better and “change her mind” and b) fell in love with her.
Putting aside the insta-love he somehow manages to feel for her (which is hard enough to manage here with everything else working against this novel), I found myself wondering throughout the course of the entire book just what there is to love about Ellery. She’s sarcastic, rude, immature, and regularly dismissing. At no point did I feel like Colter ever really got to know her as a person, but rather he saw her depression because he recognized in her something he had seen in his brother, Ryan, who had killed himself before the start of the book.
Ironically, it was the fact that he loved her at all that brought the novel to a place that there was no coming back from. It made no sense. It was thoroughly unrealistic. I could buy that she grows to love Colter if only due to the fact that having someone care about you at a time when you’ve pushed everyone away is something that could bring out those sort of feelings. Had Colter merely been acting as someone who genuinely cares about people and did not want to see a hurting person fall apart so wholly, I think I could have considered this book worth saving.
My dislike of the main character fueled a lot of my dislike for this book. I’ve often said if you can’t like or at the very least respect the main character in some way, the book is most likely lost. It’s rare that supporting characters can save novels like that. In this case, as in most with terribly written main characters, the supporting characters were all horribly underdeveloped and often unrealistic. The most egregious lay in Janie and Colter, who both have a plethora of issues that only further serve to disgrace the story. Ellery’s father as well as Colter’s mother both also represent hugely underdeveloped and unrealistic characters, only serving as further excuses for Ellery to hate herself that were exceedingly unnecessary and idiotic.
And finally, the end of the story scene at the bridge broke things further. [SPOILER: I can’t help feeling thoroughly disgusted at the way Colter manages to talk Ellery down from jumping by suggesting he cannot live in a world without her and will therefore commit suicide in the same manner and jump as well if she decides to go through with it.] At the end of the day it comes down to the fact that there were far too many problems with the writing and development of both plot and characters for this to be deserving of any praise.
*Immature, rude, and unlikable MC.
*Problems. Problems everywhere.