Posted in 2021 Books, Book Reviews, Possible Trumans 2021-22

The Unteachables – A Review

Goodreads summary here. And while you’re clicking things, add me as a friend on Goodreads.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My quick summaryMr. Zachary Kermit is beginning his very last year of teaching. He has worked the numbers and he can claim early retirement at the completion of this year. He’s in for a surprise at the beginning of the year when he is told he is teaching the “self-contained” classroom. (Side note – as a public school teacher, the way this classroom is described hopefully does not exist.) The classroom has been labeled by the staff and the district as “The Unteachables”, and no teacher lasts. Mr. Kermit doesn’t fight the placement. He’s been pushed around from class to class, and he knows this is the superintendent’s way of getting him to quit. However, Mr. Kermit is not going to quit. He’s got one more year, and he can do anything for one year.

This was my third Gordon Korman novel. Only three! From someone who has written over 80 books. I cannot even imagine writing that many books. From a quick glance at his website, he writes mainly middle grade/teen books. The three I have read are all more for middle grade, maybe even upper elementary.

The Unteachables was definitely my favorite of the ones I have read by Korman. The book is written from multiple different perspectives. While there have been a lot of novels published over the last couple years from dual perspectives, this novel dedicates at least a chapter to nearly every character in the book. I’m torn about this writing technique. It’s nice to see the story from different view points, but I also feel that I’m sometimes not getting enough character development. I didn’t feel like that with this book.

The book is really funny. There were plenty of times that I laughed out loud which drew looks from my daughters as I disrupted their video gaming. I do think that even though this book is clearly written for middle schoolers that many adults (especially teachers) will really enjoy it. I will probably purchase it for my classroom library, and I could see using it at a whole class read to discuss point of view.

Posted in 2021 Books, Book Reviews, ProjectLitBookClub

Dear Justyce Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Check out the summary from Goodreads here.

When I first read Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, I was blown away. Her style of writing drew me in from the first sentence. Dear Martin is still one of my most favorite books, and when students are searching for a book to read during SSR, it’s one of the first I grab. When I found out that Dear Justyce was coming out, I did something I have never done before. I pre-ordered it…twice.

When we first went home for the pandemic, I started searching for new people to follow on social media. Finding Nic Stone on social media was probably the best little gem I found. Through her, I have been introduced to a host of other authors as well as Project Lit. If you aren’t following her, you should. She is full of wisdom, inspiration, and just realness.

Dear Justyce is just another example of the wisdom that Stone has for us all. We follow the main character Quan throughout most of his life. In the present, Quan is in holding at a detention center awaiting trial. I think the blurbs out there give it away at to what sentence he is facing, but (as I’ve mentioned many times) I try to stay away from any sort of information about a book before I read it, and by doing that, it was a real mystery to me as to why Quan was in the detention center. It does come out, but not before the reader has a true sense of who Quan is.

I feel like this novel really opened my eyes to the way our justice system works. I’m not naïve enough to think the the system is flawless, but I had no idea how many people are in prison simply because they are awaiting trial. Have not even been convicted, yet they’re locked up, sometimes for years.

Another thing that really stood out to me (probably because I’m a teacher) was how Quan’s downward spiral happened after an incident with a teacher. He had a teacher that believed in him, supported him, encouraged him, but when she went out on maternity leave, the substitute didn’t have the same thoughts. This lack of faith, support, encouragement, and downright belief that Quan was a bad kid had a direct impact on the choices he makes.

Reading this book has made me really examine what I am doing with my students. Where do I need to be more encouraging, supportive? Where do I need to push them a little more?

I HIGHLY recommend this book to all educators. It will definitely be another Nic Stone books I shelf in my classroom and recommend to students.