Good by S. Walden
Author: S. Walden
Publisher: Penny Press Publishing
Publication Date: 8-26-13
Pages: 371 pages
Genre: New Adult
Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence.
But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.
And that’s when her life goes from bad to good.
Wow, this book was one hell of an emotional roller coaster. Good follows the story of a 17-year-old girl who has just finished serving her 10-month stint in juvie for getting high and holding up a convenience store with a couple of acquaintances. For someone who comes from a very traditional, church-going family in a relatively small town, this is a transgression that is not easily forgotten or forgiven. Bogged down by her overly protective parents who won’t even let her drive herself to school anymore, and the bullying she experiences every day at school, Cadence meets her high school math teacher, Mr. Connelly (Mark), who is the only person that treats her with respect and kindness. When Cadence realizes that his friendliness goes beyond the normal student-teacher relationship, they become involved in a tumultuous and scandalous relationship that will change the course of their lives forever.
One thing that I loved about Good was how well-written all of the characters in this novel were. Immediately, I was drawn to and captivated by Cadence’s character. Her natural sweetness and innocence is endearing — we fall in love with her just as Mr. Connelly does. And we also love Mark. He has exactly the goofy, big-hearted, hipster personality that you would expect to find in a 28-year-old math teacher.
But there is more to the story, for both of them. Cadence’s innocence, which certainly endearing, is also grating. She is awkward and unsure of herself. She is smart, but also incredibly naïve, and that really shows in a lot of her interactions with Mark. Similarly, Mark’s character is also multi-faceted. Although he comes across as genuine and loving, part of me doubts his intentions. He doesn’t seem put off by Cadence’s naïvety — he actually likes it — which is somewhat concerning. There is also the fact that, while we know many things about Cadence and her past, we know absolutely nothing about Mark and his life before he met Cadence. This is one of the reasons that I’m very interested in reading the rest of this series, because I know that there is so much more to him that has yet to be seen.
I love how this book makes the reader question their moral stance on things. Cadence and Mark’s relationship is on one hand so refreshing and natural and beautiful…but there is also that element of concern — why is this 28-year-old teacher interested in his 17-year-old student? Is this really okay?
There is also the whole issue of Cadence’s family, and the addition of religion into this conversation. What is “good?” It can be defined so many ways. Do Cadence’s “good” and her family’s version of “good” both have equal merit? Who is “right?” Is Cadence and Mark’s relationship making her question her previous moral and religious beliefs? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? There are so many places that this story could go in its next installment, and I am very excited to be a part of this amazing and unique series.