Descending by Catherine Chisnell
Addition: Review e-book
Emily is a lonely, disillusioned, teaching assistant at a college of Further Education. Jamie is a neglected, unpredictable student. Trapped together in a falling lift, wherever will this lead? Told from Emily’s point of view, this story explores the ambiguity of relationships between staff and students, and reflects on who is actually in control.
I saw this book advertised on a blog site and thought I would check it out. I got it as a review book from Smashwords but to be honest I wish I had not wasted my time. The story follows Emily, a teaching assistant who also works at a call centre. Due to having two jobs she has not made friends and feels isolated and alone. She does not even think the students appreciate her. She finds herself in the lift, after having handed in her resignation at the college when it breaks down. The other person in the lift is one of the students she helps, Jamie. Unsure as to his feelings towards her, she is shocked when he kisses her as the lift plunges downwards. This then leads onto a full relationship, and for a time he lives with her as his father has kicked him out. But all is not as good as it seems, and she finds herself manipulated by Jamie, embarrassed by the students and intimidated by Jamie’s father. All of which leads to the college finding out what has been going on…
This book had the potential to be really good. Other stories that have involved student-teacher relationships, such as The Ice-Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson and Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller were readable and gripping. This book wasn’t. I found Chisnell’s writing to be amateur – almost as if she wasn’t used to writing a story. The style reminded me of celebrity autobiographies, where they almost seem to list what has happened. There was also a lot of bad language, which I didn’t like.
I wasn’t really a fan of any of the characters. Emily irritated me – I thought she was a bit needy, always wondering what people thought of her and whining that she had no friends. I thought she could have resolved her problems in another way. I also didn’t think much of Jamie, although he did come across as a stereotypical teenage boy – into alcohol, sex and the like.
The storyline wasn’t all that believable – the kiss in the lift was very cliché and so was the relationship, sneaking around and the worry of being caught. I think the college handled the situation well but I did think Chisnell weakened the story by having Emily resign before the affair started. I did finish this book, but I didn’t think much of it. Other reviews have rated this book highly, but for me, I just didn’t enjoy it at all.