Monday 11 March 2013

Book ~ "Nobody Has to Know" (2012) Frank Nappi

From Goodreads ~ Nobody Has To Know, Frank Nappi's dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path.

Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has To Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies, and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.

Cameron ("Mr. B") is a popular 25-year-old high school teacher.  He's been dating and living with Haley for a few years.  Despite the fact that he is only a couple years older than his students, he has been able to maintain an appropriate relationship with them ... until Nikki comes along.  With Nikki, he feels things he hasn't felt since his first girlfriend, Maleigha, when he was fourteen.  Though he tries to resist, he can't fight it and he and Nikki begin a relationship.

Cameron thinks he can hide the consequences of his actions ... but he can't.  Someone knows and starts blackmailing him ... and the blackmailer is always one step ahead of him.  And during all this, he and Haley are planning their wedding and she is getting mad because he's distracted and leaving all the arrangements to her.  If she only knew!!

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  An affair between a teacher and a student is always a touchy subject.  I liked this book because it wasn't focused on the relationship itself but on how Cameron tries to hide that it happened.  Just when he thinks he has everything under control, he is slammed by the blackmailer with threats and it's interesting to see how he deals with it.

I liked the writing style ... it was well-paced and kept me wanting to read more.  The story is told in third person so you get to read how Cameron, Haley, Nikki, etc. are feeling at the moment.  It dips back in the past at times ... for example, when Cameron remembering his relationship with Maleigha.  Despite the fact that I figured out the ending way before it happened, I enjoyed reading how the author got me there and was satisfied with how it ended (for the most part, it's how I would have ended it ... except for the last two paragraphs).

Though he was an excellent teacher who could relate to his students, I didn't like Cameron as a person.  I found him weak and it seemed to be always all about Cameron.  And because I didn't like Cameron, I was cheering every time the blackmailer pushed him again and again.  Ha!  I found Haley a bit annoying at times.  She had a tough life growing up and tended to whine about it at times.  But she was justified in her frequent freaking out on Cameron.  It's a testament to the writing that I enjoyed the book despite disliking the main characters.

This is a dark look at the consequences when a teacher has a relationship with a student and I'd recommend it!  As a head's up, the language and activity are mature at times.

Cam knew he should not have encouraged her - should have never pursued her. It was the first thing he was told before he took the job. It wasn’t so much an admonition as it was a statement of fact.

“Remember, you can be friendly with these kids, but you are not their friend,” his mentor, a seasoned veteran of twenty nine years, warned. “Especially the girls. That’s just trouble waiting to happen.”

Cam shrugged it off. He had heard that warning before. Besides, he had no interest in teenage girls, especially the ones sitting in his classroom.

“No problem there John,” he had explained at the time. “I have it covered. I have no time for any of that. I’m involved already. College sweetheart. It’s cool. Really. We’ve been together for years.”

“Is that right?” John commented. “Then what’s the deal? I mean, twenty five isn’t old friend, but seems to me you should have taken it to the next level by now.”

Cam flushed and stood more awkwardly now. John marveled at his protégé’s attempt to free himself from the moment’s grasp.

“I don’t know,” Cam replied. “Why does everyone ask me that? I really don’t know. I guess the timing has never been quite right.” He paused briefly, gleaning some obscure meaning behind the raised eyebrows of his friend and mentor, then continued to speak, like an actor who had just been cued from offstage.

“But that should change soon. Hayley and I will probably be engaged by Christmas.”

Cam should have remembered John Volpe’s words. He should have listened to logic, and tucked away those feelings. He should have done a lot of things, like remembered his master’s thesis – the one that explored La Femme Fatale. He knew all the names. The sirens of Greek Mythology. Mata Hari. Memo Paris. Daisy Buchanan and Mattie Silver. And of course there was Nabokov’s Lolita. She was the one he remembered most. “All of them,” he had written, “are so very beautiful, so alluring, yet deadly – life draining vampires who possess the power to transfix the opposite sex with their feminine wiles, leaving these spellbound males weak, vulnerable and ultimately barren.” He should have remembered. He should have considered how much he loved teaching and his genuine affection for everyone at Hillcrest High School. He tried. But all he could see was her. For some reason, all he could think about was her long dark hair, and what it would be like to touch it – to let the soft strands cascade across his own body. And the wet shine of her lips. My God, what would it be like to feel those as well? To press his to hers. She was so beautiful, so exquisite, so young.

So many times, during their little chats before and after class, he stared into her blue eyes, marbled with gray flecks, and was lit by her electric smile, all the while wondering how it was that this universe managed to give birth to such a perfect creature. She was perfect. She was just as Nabokov had described his Lolita -- the nymphet, a mystical, magical, sweet smelling creature budding with sexuality, ripening on life’s vine, right before his very eyes. Yes, the forbidden fruit. Oh how she tortured him. The curve of her mouth; her slender waist and fully formed hips, both attenuators to the rhapsody of her walk; her sweet smell and the softness of her tan skin. Everything about her called to him desperately. It was a familiarly paralyzing feeling. The girl was also familiar. He could recall, as a kid, humid summer evenings with his friends, racing around on damp lawns under a gray sky that had just begun to soften into the pitch of night. Freeze tag was the game most often. Some complained it was a bit juvenile, but there were all sorts of variations, including a wrinkle that included their favorite alcoholic drink of choice.

The rules of the game were basic: once touched, you could not move. You remained frozen in place, sometimes drinking to excess, until someone freed you from your current state. He could still remember waiting, silent and still, for what seemed sometimes to be an eternity. It was uncomfortable. Cam’s knees would ache and his arms would burn. It was interminable. He was always tempted to transgress, to flex his muscles under the cover of the deepening night. He never did. Even though he could move, he never did, for the spirit of and passion for the game always trumped logic and reason.

He played it all the time, with Maleigha. She was his first love. It was the summer before he began high school when he met her. She had just turned fourteen, and was visiting her cousin, who happened to be his next door neighbor. He was slightly older and they had spent that entire summer together, swimming and riding bikes. He often thought, even now, how odd it was how they seemed to click instantly. She came from a Latin American family that lived in a trailer in New Jersey. She was a singer, and a lover of jazz music. He was just a kid from Long Island who loved the Mets. Their cultures and upbringing differed greatly as well. Yet somehow, none of it mattered. It was part of the magic.

The days that summer were filled with innocent fun with a group of others. They sat around many afternoons listening to their favorite tracks from Rage Against the Machine and The Smashing Pumpkins while playing Super Mario 64 on his Nintendo. When they tired of that, the world outside offered more frivolity, including wiffle ball, Marco Polo, tag, and man hunt. They were rarely at a loss for entertainment. Those were good days. But night time was really special. At night, it was all about Maleigha.

Often, Cam would take her for walks through the nature preserve not too far from his house. She loved the sound of the crickets, and the gentle trickle of the shallow waterway that snaked its way through the underbrush. It was there they would hold hands and talk about the summer and the beach and about their feelings for each other.

“This is very different from where I come from,” she said, marveling at the moon through the treetops. “I really love it here.”

“Is Long Island really that different from New Jersey?” he asked.

She looked at him with bubbling amazement.

“Yeah, just a little,” she answered, shaking her head playfully.

“Well, it’s not that far,” he said. “Maybe your family can move here.”

She never looked so sad.

“I don’t think so Cam.”

“Well, you never know,” he continued. “Besides, you can always visit, right?”

She was thinking of her mother, and the last thing she said to her before Maleigha left.

“Have good time at Carla’s, behave yourself Maleigha, you hear? No trouble, okay? But by time you get back, we be all set to leave for Ecuador. No worries mi hija. It be fine.”

It will be fine, her mother kept saying. Somehow, Maleigha just could not see how moving to the other end of the earth would ever be fine. Not now. Not ever.

“Sure Cam,” she said through glassy eyes. “I can visit.”

He thought of Maleigha often. It was eleven years since he had last seen her, and he was now a twenty-five-year-old man with a beautiful fiancée and a promising career. Time had altered many things for Cam, but Maleigha remained a part of him. And although life had offered him a promising path to follow, other thoughts were now surfacing as well, like how this new nymphet of his, Nikki, knew very well, on some level, just how enticing she was. That’s why her sweaters fell the way they did across her round breasts, and why her clothes left very little unknown about just how shapely she was. It was the same reason why she twirled her hair when she laughed and why she giggled flirtatiously every time she said hello to him in the hallway. She was no child. No way. And he was no longer a man in control, but a tortured soul, slave to her essence, lost always in beautiful, woeful distraction.

There were moments when it was almost more than he could bear. When she touched his arm playfully, or blinked her eyes in that coquettish way of hers, it rendered him in agony. His heart would rebel feverishly, and his reality would divide instantly into two sectors – the ecstasy felt from the passing of electricity through that touch or flirtation and the devastation of a world that simply forbade any further advance. Those fires of love, or perhaps lust, burned wildly in the chasm between hemispheres and transformed quickly into waves of passionate thought. What would it be like, he wondered, to press his body up against hers? Just once. To feel, with all his being, her tight, silky skin next to his. It was a desire that ruled his soul.

Even so, he should have known better. Although only seven years separated the two, it should never have gone any further. It should have ended with those harmless flirtations, like their conversations about things they both loved, like the Mets and Kanye West, and the way he always saved her a piece of his Orbit gum or the many visits he made to Carvel, where she worked part time, just because he was “in the neighborhood.”

“You again?” she said laughing. “This is the third time this week. You sure must love ice cream.”

“What can I say Nikki,” he answered. “I’m addicted.”

Yes, he should have recognized the signs and just walked away. But he didn’t. Somewhere, deep within the darkest chambers of his soul, lurked the feeling that he had to have her – that his body would not survive in her absence. It was an uncompromising pang. Not even John’s advice and knowledge of all that he could lose were enough to extricate him from the blissful imaginings and real life longings. No. It did not matter. Nothing else mattered. Not any more. His world had been turned upside down in an instant, and he had reached the point of no return.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Anas said...

Wonderful review, so what inspired this book, if you don't me asking?

Moonsurfer123 (at)gmail(dot)com

Lyra L7 said...

I love the premise of this story! Is it finished or is there a sequel?


Andra Lyn said...

I don't know why but I'm always fascinated by Student-teacher relationships...Excited to hear more about this book through the tour!

andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

Hope said...

Hm, I thinks it's quite an interesting plot I hope the story has a happy end of sorts?

hopefull1978 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds very intense--thanks for the honest review!


Lana A said...

Who would you like to play your hero and heroine, should your book be picked for a movie?


MomJane said...

This had to be difficult to write. Sounds as though you did a great job.

emmarocks said...

Hm, student-teacher relationship sounds interesting, that he still has a fiance doesn't make me like him, though.


Unknown said...

I like the sound of this!


Jibriel said...

Nice excerpt!


Anzu said...

Why did you choose a student-teacher relationship, how old is Nikki, when they meet?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

Emiliana25 said...

Is Nikki of age? I mean of course it would be scandal if the teacher had an affaire with a student but if she is a minor, that's a criminal matter and I'd guess the blackmail would be even more serious.


Frank Nappi said...

Thank you so much for this insightful review and for all of these comments.

As of now NOBODY HAS TO KNOW does not have a sequel. I don't want to say too much about the ending - whether it was happy or sad - it will ruin it. As far as the inspiration - I have been a high school teacher for over 20 years, but the book is totally fiction!!!

I hope you all read and enjoy.

Thanks again,

Frank Nappi

Catherine Lee said...

Is this a YA title? New Adult? Adult?
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Chelsea B. said...

Whew! This one sounds intense. Thank you for an insightful, honest review!


Mary Preston said...

Controversial to say the least. This is going to be a very interesting read.


Masshole Mommy said...

Sounds like an interesting book!

bn100 said...

Very nice review


Anonymous said...

I love books that have such unconventional relationships. Really want to read this one. :D

EFC Chrissy said...

Good review! I, too, enjoyed this book.