Funmbi 's Reviews > Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan
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's review
Apr 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-adult-romance, 2012
Read from July 23 to August 01, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to read Lessons Learned.

We begin with Sarah Bray returning to her hometown Sycamore Falls after enduring a traumatic experience while living and teaching in the big city. As she comes to terms with her past loss, Sarah also finds comfort, friendship, and love with Lucas Miller, another teacher also seeking a fresh start in small town Appalachia. But this is no ordinary romance story: Logan uses this setting as a backdrop for a larger commentary on issues of religion, race, sexuality, discrimination, violence, forgiveness, healing, and redemption.

This book is extremely well written, featuring relatable and compelling characters and an evocative plot. I can absolutely imagine myself driving through Sycamore Falls, or picking up a newspaper and reading about Sarah or Lucas' experiences. Right from the beginning, I feel compassion for these characters. I want the best for them, and I'm invested in their happiness. I enjoy watching Sarah overcome her fear. I enjoy watching her build a life with Lucas. They take care of each other. More than anything, I appreciate how kind, unassuming, and patient Lucas is. I love watching Sarah and Lucas' relationship unfold.

Many times while reading, I find myself frustrated with Sarah. Why is she so hesitant to tell Lucas the truth about what happens at her old school? Is it because of the guilt Sarah feels? Lucas says it best when he argues "I can't help you fight your demons if I don't know what they are." And I'm equally curious about the fact that Lucas doesn't search the internet or ask friends about Sarah's past. Is he really *that* patient?

I love how, from very early on, Lucas is clear about the depth of his feelings:
"You're not alone in this world. I'm right here, and I'm trying so hard to love you. All I want to do is love you. Let me love you."
The way he begs Sarah to let him tell her he love's heart-wrenching and desperate and beautiful.

The Josh/Travis story and Sarah's guilt in the aftermath is heartbreaking:
"I told him to be honest. I told him to be real and he listened to me, and now he's dead."
Josh, a gay student, confides in Sarah. She tries to advise him, and unfortunately, as a result of another student's hatred, Josh is killed.
After reading this, I am still curious about what happened to Travis. Is he alive? Does he take his own life after killing Josh? Is Josh the only person he harmed that day?

I think the use of Matt's character and story is masterful. It kind of serves as a counterpoint to Josh's story.
It's so painful to watch the star of this town deal with scorn from friends and neighbors as a result of being gay. Matt deals with so much: former team mates beating him up, rumors in the newspaper, possible jail time for defending himself against a violent assault.
One of the most difficult moments for me, is Matt's speech in church...asking to remain a part of the community, practically apologizing for being gay, and still being turned away.
Matt's attempted suicide just guts me: "do you think there's enough water in this river to wash away my wickedness?"
But with the help of his mother, Sarah, and Lucas, Matt survives and goes on to accomplish great things.

I love how Logan uses this story as a commentary on small towns. In actuality, they're not so different than big cities. Small towns are sheltered and conservative, preferring the status quo. But maybe being sheltered isn't always a bad thing.
Moreover, there are all sorts of people in small towns, just like in big cities. There are people like Princple Mullins, hell-bent on making life difficult for those he doesn't think are living appropriately. And there are people like Aubrey and Tommy, complex characters, with strong beliefs in the bible and right vs. wrong. But they don't use those beliefs to harm or discriminate against others.

Ultimately, with encouragement from Sarah's Grandmother via a letter written before her passing, Sarah and Lucas leave Sycamore Falls. The year they spend in this town brings them together and heals them. But Sarah and Lucas also know that, in order to grow individually and as a family, they must settle elsewhere.
"And maybe someday you'll make a list of your lessons learned and you'll share them with your own granddaughter."

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I laughed, cried, swooned, raged, and cheered with these characters. You will too.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book!
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Reading Progress

5.0% "I already have several speculations..."
14.0% "So far, so good...very likable characters."
18.0% "Blue eyes, good with kids, humble, kind, patient, and a Democrat. Lucas is my dream-man."
35.0% "Poor Lucas!"
44.0% "*CRIES*"
57.0% "Josh :((((((((((((((( *heartbreak*"
85.0% "Allllllllllllllllll the feelings!"
96.0% ""It means he treats you with respect, and he shows you everyday you are loved." *cries*"
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Jackie Did you get an ARC? I did, too.

Funmbi I did! I'm about halfway through.

Laury I wanted a ARC :(

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