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SO WHAT! STORIES or WHATEVER! (So What! Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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I was told that this was intended to be series of stories but when I read it seemed structured more like a novel, albeit with individual anecdotes included here and there. The book tells the tale of a men, Robert Jeffrey, who sets out to prove to himself (and his father under whose shadow he always seems to be) that he can become a Science teacher who will motivate children and get them to enjoy Science. Therefore, the setting is very much a school one and it is so realistically portrayed that I suspect the author has been, or maybe still is, a Science teacher. The classroom scenes and the interaction of the teachers among themselves and with their pupils are brilliantly described. They really do make for riveting reading.
The plot itself is rather a loose one, which perhaps accounts for its being described as a collection of tales and basically focuses on Robert Jeffrey's progression from a newly qualified teacher, bright eyed and bushy tailed but as naïve as he is well intentioned, to a highly respected and experienced member of staff and his encounters with a particularly unpleasant bully boy, Kyle, (good name for a bully!) who has no respect for authority or, indeed, anyone. His exploits are very epitomized by his physical and mental bullying of the brothers Adam and Nigel Shantra, two intelligent and well behaved boys who are no match for bully boy Kyle at school.
The characterisation in the book is one of its strongest features. Robert Jeffrey, around whom all of the action revolves, is a multi-faceted character who exhibits a combination of strengths and weaknesses in a complex mix. The adult reader can empathise with him very easily whilst the young adult reader (yes, this is a rare example of a book that falls equally easily into more than one genre) will identify with the brothers Shantra equally easily.
But perhaps the most impressive feature of the book is the denouement - don't worry, no spoiler alert necessary - which comes in the form of an Epilogue and has the protagonist and the schoolboys, now grown men, meet in unexpected circumstances. This last chapter had such a powerful effect that I read it three or four times, so cleverly constructed it was.
This is a book which will stay in the mind of the reader long after it has been put down and I recommend it unequivocally.
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Mr. Jeffrey is looking back at the years he spent as a teacher.Read more