by MA Wardell
Print Length: 347 pages
Release Year: 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.39
Love: Not as easy as ABC.
They were supposed to keep things casual. Who’d expect they’d be schooled in love?
Those who can, teach. Marvin Block is one of the best kindergarten teachers out there. And despite his anxiety, Marvin’s life is sweet. He knows what he wants. And what he wants is the Teacher of the Year Award. Not just for himself – his school needs him to win.
Returning from break, the New Year finds Marvin all set to welcome a new pupil to his class. But when Illona walks in with her cute-as-hell single dad beside her, Marvin’s focus starts to slide.
Sure, his students always come first, but he deserves to have a life outside the classroom, too, right?
As their friendship starts to deepen, Marvin realizes Olan has the potential to teach him things about love he never thought possible. But with the Teacher of the Year award and his school’s future on the line, now’s not the time for anything complicated.
Education has always been Marvin’s world. And he needs to keep a cool head if he wants to win the award and save his school. But will it be worth it if he loses Olan in the process?
With Olan’s past and Marvin’s present colliding, their experiment in love hangs in the balance. Marvin knows what he wants out of life. But now he’s forced to consider what he wants out of love.
Will Marvin chalk the relationship up to experience? Or can they revise their story into a textbook romance?
Teacher of the Year is a steamy open door friends-to-lovers gay romance novel that explores the balance between friends, family, career, and relationships while overcoming trauma and dealing with anxiety. (Goodreads)
In association with Hear Our Voices Book Tours.
Honestly, I don’t think I can rave enough about this book. Not only as a reader but as a teacher, this book is what I needed. Wardell checks off all the important details of a good romance. Found family? Yup. Spice? Of course. Swoon-worthy fluff? It’s there!
Teacher of the Year achieves what it sets out to do so. As a love letter to queer teachers, TOY unapologetically allows queer readers to live vicariously through its characters. At the end of the day, it’s a feel-good story that doesn’t completely ignore the reality of the world but sets the worst parts of reality away to allow the reader to simply enjoy an adorable love story. Wardell does an amazing job creating characters with real struggles and how love can be a source of healing if you open yourself up to the possibilities.
Unless you’re a kindergarten teacher, it’s hard to find anything wrong with this book, and even then, you’ll probably be nitpicking. While there were moments that I couldn’t help but call bullshit, that was not a reflection of Wardell’s writing– rather a reflection of the fact that my kindergarten students are just… not like Marvin’s. (Honestly, I’m jealous.)
I’m pretty sure every (single) teacher has daydreamed about being swept away by an attractive parent, even more so when their child is one of the shining stars of your classroom. As a queer teacher, that daydream is often not even an option. Wardell reminds us it’s okay to daydream because you never know… dreams may come true.