The Plot in 5 Sentences Or Less: Each of the fifth graders in Mr. Terupt’s class at Snow Hill School has a story. Jessica, for instance, just moved across country with her mother to get away from her dad, while Alexia is intent upon spreading gossip throughout the class in order to start a war among the girls. As the year progresses, tensions among the students rise. But Mr. Terupt is an extraordinary teacher, capable of challenging his students with creative projects that point to deeper lessons. When a tragic event unfolds, Mr. Terupt’s lessons of kindness and forgiveness will be put to the test.
My Take: Because of Mr. Terupt reminded me of the book Wonder by Palacio because of the revolving first person narrator style and the emphasis on young people working out how to treat each other. Much credit should be given to Buyea for revisiting the “inspiring teacher” trope and not writing a stale rehash from this familiar territory. The choice to have the plot revolve around the tragic event in the middle of the book provides a great deal of momentum to the narrative. I did find the ending a little too nicely wrapped up for my cynical tastes, but this is nonetheless a wonderful read about forgiveness and the power of a teacher to inspire.
One Interesting Note About the Author: On his website, Rob Buyea confesses that he wasn’t much of reader growing up, but he did enjoy My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.