January 15, 2012

Chain Gang Elementary by Jonathan Grant

Chain Gang Elementary by Jonathan Grant is about Richard Gray, a work-from-home father elected as head of the Parent-Teacher Organization.  This novel details  his escalating war with the principal aka dictator of Malliford elementary school and Richard's deteriorating marriage.  The last quarter of the book is especially gripping, when all of the forces at play finally bubble over into a crazy (but believable!) ending.   

I enjoyed the writing style.  Despite the occasional grammatical error, it is a breezy, quick read.  Richard's relationship with his son is especially well-written, illustrating a great father-son bond.  

I'm a former teacher and I chose to read this book because I know that the politics of a school can be crazy.  I am not disappointed.  Principal Rutherford's heavy-handed rulings are unfortunately very believable.  The book also raises issues of race, class and white privilege in a way that is very nuanced and thoughtful.  The ending is great--I read the last quarter in one evening because I didn't want to put it down! 

There is one small storyline that bothered me, mostly because it seems a bit incongruous with the rest of the very-believable story.  I won't spoil anything, but Richard shares a story about a childhood formative experience to his wife in such an off-hand manner that it seems contrived.  Most of the follow-up action to this childhood experience also pushes the boundaries of belief.   

I also am not a fan of the portrayal of Richard's relationship with his wife.  I understand strained relationships but it is hard to see that there was ever any love and communication between them.  Lastly, there is quite a roster of characters and it was occasionally difficult to keep track of all of them. 

Overall a very enjoyable read, one that will make you feel outraged, sad, and hopeful.   4 stars 

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of this review.  These are my honest thoughts and opinions.
 post signature

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...