by Alissa Nutting
In a sweaty Florida school, a teacher looks out for her kids…
This novel is a doozy. It already starts sinister, and it just seems to spiral worse.
Prose-wise, it’s an easy read, with enough poetics so as not to be boring. Topic-wise, it might not be easy to digest if you’re prone to moral outrage.
The little details get to me. They’re often informative and vibrant, the splashes of quirks that lend the protagonist verisimilitude.
The night of open house we had to report for duty at six; rather than leave and return I stayed in the classroom and used a set of needle-nose tweezers to carve a message into the desk Jack Patrick sat at: YOU WANT ME, placed in small, squarish letters at the very top, a border that would hover above his textbook when he read and his notebook when he wrote.
The story presents the question of unfairness in the power dynamic between genders. Should emotional crimes be as punishable as physical crimes? The book doesn’t have real murder, per-say, but it’s a question to think about. If you want to slake your curiosity and you have the gumption, see if you can make it through the end of Tampa.
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