Take one deeply wounded, unconventional teenaged girl. Add one slightly wounded, unconventional, and seriously hot teacher. Place them together in a school and make sure they’re at odds. Stir, add a dog, and watch the plot unfold. It all sounds very trivial on the surface, but Rebecca’s wounds run very deep and, when she finally opens up, it’s not so surprisingly that her feelings boil too high. Meanwhile the loyal, wonderful, Australian Max is trying to do his best, breaking rules with innocent intent while backing himself into a corner. Disaster looms and the girl who’s been crushed before might be more than a little crushed when she lets her feelings show, but isn’t that just what everyone’s been telling her to do? Using the unreliable narrator technique consistently to masterful effect, the author simultaneously makes the world on this English high school vibrantly real and just slightly off-kilter, conveying the feelings and false secrets of teenaged girls trapped in that space between adult and child. If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, maybe Rebecca’s fake strength really will hide a backbone of genuine steel, but it might take time to reveal it. A nicely plotted story with pleasing characters, deep pain addressed with genuine empathy, and honest integrity, A Little Crushed grows into something surprisingly memorable by the end, leaving readers pleased and thoughtful and satisfied.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to be given an eARC of this novel by the author, no strings attached.