Gone – Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson

Connor, the 17-year-old protagonist of Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson’s YA novel, Gone, is straddling the  fence between innocence and experience. He has just graduated from high school, lives with his Aunt Syl, and visits his father in a nursing home where he has been living ever since he crashed his car while driving drunk. His mother is also a recovering alcoholic.  He is certainly vulnerable to the advances of Corinna Timms.

Ms. Timms was one of Connor’s high school teachers.

Zach…called Ms. Timms serious babe material – too bad she was their teacher. Connor called her, just to himself, beautiful. Half the time in her class had been spent trying not to stare at her, then failing his resolve, ducking his head when she turned around from the blackboard and caught him.

For the nanosecond that their eyes locked – what?

It’s this what that drives the narrative of Gone. As Connor moves through his days, avoiding his mother, working at Chow Line, hanging with his friend, Zach – he does his best to avoid thinking about his growing feelings for Ms. Timms. But it is clear to the reader (and Connor’s closest friends) that something is happening. And make no mistake – the fuel for Connor’s growing obsession is hormones.

Connor’s feelings for Ms. Timms are, in part, exacerbated by his parental issues. When his father dies and his mother, newly sober, comes to town, Connor is forced to confront some of his painful family problems. By then, though, things with Ms. Timms have crossed the platonic line and his world spins off its axis.

Gone is not a love story. Ms. Timms has her own demons. In the end, she comes across more as predator than genuine friend. And while Connor’s world does shift dangerously off track, he is a smart kid and I suspect that he’ll be okay in the end.

This book won’t be everyone’s cup of YA tea. But it’s intelligent and well-written, although there is some strong language. Obviously.