Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Little Miss Teacher

By Melissa Amster
I almost became a teacher. I went to college to study special education. Then I realized it wasn't the right path for me. As an adult, I substitute taught a Sunday school class a few times and realized how right I was in not aiming for a teaching career. You have to have just the right amount of patience and flexibility to be a teacher. And reading Candace's story in "Little Miss Teacher" by Cassandra O'Sullivan Sachar allowed me to have a glimpse into the career path not taken, and also confirmed my beliefs of what character traits are truly needed.

Candace details her first year of her job as a high school English teacher, starting in October and going through the last day of school in June. Throughout this time, she deals with rebellious students, immature teachers, her own dating disasters and her best friend's mysterious behavior. In doing so, she comes to some realizations about herself as both a teacher and a woman on the brink of adulthood.

What I liked about "Little Miss Teacher" was that Candace was easy to relate to. I could even see myself being friends with her. She reminds me of what I was like in my early to mid-twenties. (I found it funny that she'd go to work sick instead of delegating, as I could see myself doing that too.) Candace was an earnest overachiever. She was also wise for her age and down to earth, not afraid to admit that she wasn't perfect. I also liked Ms. Sachar's use of description, as everyone and everything was easy to visualize. I sometimes felt as if I were right there with Candace. I especially enjoyed reading about the holidays through Candace's eyes. I am all about holidays and Candace conveyed my enthusiasm for [most of] them. I thought it was clever that each chapter was a lesson. Finally, I liked living vicariously through her when she had "girls' nights" with her best friend. It seemed like she knew how to have fun.

What didn't work for me was primarily a lack of balance. In Candace's first year teaching, she experienced a couple of heavy issues. It almost seemed like Ms. Sachar was piling too much on her to exaggerate what can happen in a high school. I don't doubt it could all happen in the span of a year, but Candace's reactions seemed a bit "off" at times. She came off as detached, even when trying to live in the moment, and was passive and blasé about some things that would have jarred me for a longer period of time, had I been in her shoes. "Little Miss Teacher" was being compared to "The Devil Wears Prada" or "The Nanny Diaries," but I didn't get the same feeling I did from those novels. I didn't feel stressed out for Candace because she either created her own stress or she let things roll off her back rather quickly. I would have preferred to see Candace go through a bunch of unfair and annoying situations than have to deal with a few epic things that didn't affect her past the day they occurred. Her personal life ended up being way more stressful than her job. Finally, for a final print of a story about an English teacher, I found it peppered with spelling and grammatical errors.

Overall, I found "Little Miss Teacher" to be an easy read and I did like wondering what would come next. I even laughed a bunch of times or nodded along in agreement. I wish Candace had been given more to do than just teach. She could have led an extracurricular activity. Those were the reason I liked high school and looked forward to going. I would have loved for someone like Candace to run my speech team when I was in high school. She had the right personality and qualities to lead a speech team to victory. It was a fun story, but I see the audience being women who just graduated college and are starting in their first jobs. I may have appreciated this more if I had read it during that period of my life. I think I have too much with which to compare it now. I did like being able to reminisce about my single days and first job by experiencing it through Candace (in different degrees though).

Cassandra dropped by CLC for her book tour. Learn more about her and enter to win a copy of "Little Miss Teacher" here.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Thanks for the review!