The relationship in this book is so very different than the cases covered by the media involving an older teacher and a very young student, though. In the book, Eden is a popular, mature, eighteen-year-old high school senior who falls for James, a first-year, somewhat awkward, twenty-two-year-old music teacher.
The age gap is minimal and wouldn't even matter if they were, say, a college freshman and a college senior who decided to date. They have a lot in common, including a love of music, and there's certainly enough chemistry to see them as a viable couple. The problem stems from the power differential between a teacher/authority figure and a student.
In A Season of Eden, however, the situation is handled extremely well. Beautifully, even, and I can't help hoping the fictional characters find a way to create a life together.
As the book stands, the important element is that Eden spends her senior year learning a lot about herself and the people she thought were her friends, sort of falling into the general category of "you make me want to be a better man [person]," as described in As Good As It Gets. Eden really does grow and change in a positive way as a result of her feelings for James.
p. 106: The rush I had felt building around us popped. "Because I live in a big house I have everything?"
"It's not just the big house."
"How do you know all of this without knowing me?" My face heated as anger spread. "You don't know anything about me."
"And you don't know anything about me. Whatever you think you like about me, Eden, it's only the part I let the world see. That's the mask we all wear."
"Is this some lame excuse for rejection? If you aren't attracted to me, just say so, but don't play around with it. I can take it, whatever it is."
My overall personal rating of A Season of Eden is an A-.