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Julie Doe

A Terrible Beauty: What Teachers Know But Seldom Discuss Outside the Staff Room.. - D.W. St. John "Gary Stu + major ranting = this not-a-story"

The purpose of this book seemed to be to advance the author's negative opinions about our current education system and not to tell an engaging story. I finished the book, but I admit that I ended up skimming over many scenes where characters were going on ad nauseam about how bad things were.

The main character - burnt-out and surly teacher Dai O'Connel - was unlikable. The story begins after he has lost his wife and young child in a horrible car accident. As the product description says, "Dai O'Connel is no longer willing to lie" while doing his job. Unfortunately, this means he is nice to the kids he likes and bordering on abusive to kids and parents he doesn't like. He insults parents of kids who aren't "trying" and physically assaults one boy who is being a jerk but is not physically threatening.

Sorry but "deciding not to lie" does not necessarily mean "being a ass". Many people have stressful jobs and demanding clients/customers/etc.. They do not have the luxury of repeatedly insulting those clients/customers/etc. without consequences, including losing their job. In this story, however, O'Connel losing his job is presented as the result of a witch-hunt by stupid and lazy parents and board members. In reality, the guy deserved to lose his job if he was so burned out or pissed off that he could not control his feelings and his mouth.

(And just to clear something up - I do not have school age children and I am not a dissatisfied parent venting here.)

I did mostly like the main female lead, Solange Gonsalvas. I can't speak to the realism of her being so high up in the administration of a large school district at such a young age (as other reviewers have mentioned).

The writing itself was often confusing, particularly the dialogue. Sometimes more than one person speaks in a single big paragraph, and sometimes dialogue runs into another paragraph with it being clear who is speaking.

There is also a long scene near the beginning where O'Connel discusses abuses of the Bill of Rights, which has nothing to do with the overall story and seems like the just an excuse for the author to insert a political lecture to the reader.

All-in-all, not a "story" that I would recommend to anyone. Grade: D.