It's the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There's Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who's having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.
Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn't let them get away with much...until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything--and everyone.
Rob Buyea's engaging first novel features seven narrators, each with a unique story, and each with a different perspective on what makes their teacher so special.
I have a feeling this is a book that will inspire teachers to be more like Mr. Terupt and makes the rest of us wish we'd had a Mr. Terupt at some point in our schooling.
The set up of this book, with each chapter narrated by a different kid, took some getting used to (seven different voices is a lot!). Buyea nails some of the kids' voices, while others seem like a stereotype rather than authentic. However, as the book goes on, the chapters flow more easily, and Buyea does a great job of characterizing the kids differently and quickly.
The real magic of this book is how so many lessons are crammed in, and quite believably, too. These fifth graders learn that everyone has their own secrets and hurts; they learn to love and learn from special needs kids; they learn forgiveness and tough love; they learn how to cope with guilt and how to learn from mistakes; they learn that prayer can make tough times a little easier; they learn that when someone in your life is special, you should make sure that person knows how you feel.
I loved these kids, especially Danielle, Jeffrey, and Jessica. I kind of hope there's a sequel, detailing their sixth grade year, though I hope it is less dramatic than this one. For their sakes.
Five out of five free days.
Release Date: October 2010
Reading Level: Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: BLUESTEM