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Publisher's Summary

Ms. Beatrice Hempel, teacher of seventh grade, is new - new to teaching, new to the school, newly engaged, and newly bereft of her devoted father. Overwhelmed by her newness, she struggles to figure out what is expected of her in life and at work. Is it acceptable to introduce swear words in to the English curriculum, enlist students to write their own report cards, or bring up personal experiences while teaching a sex-education class?

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum finds characters at their most vulnerable, then explores those precarious moments in sharp, graceful prose. From this most innovative of young writers comes another journey down the rabbit hole to the wonderland of middle school, memory, daydreaming, and the extraordinary business of growing up.

©2008 Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Bynum's second novel provides a narrative voice as unique and engaging as that in her award-winning debut, Madeleine Is Sleeping." ( Booklist)
"Bynum writes with great acuity, and the emotional undercurrents in this sharp take on coming-of-age and growing up will move readers in unexpected ways." ( Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)
"Such a beautiful book is Ms. Hempel Chronicles, the kind that gives its reader profound insights into ordinary, everyday life. . . . [D]eeply affecting." ( Los Angeles Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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A Gem

I was completely taken by surprise by this gentle, joyous and insightfully told story of Beatrice, a new exceedingly earnest middle-school teacher. The story was funny, frank, oddball, loving and longingly told. Gilbert's narration was a perfect foil for Bynum's beautifully succinct nail-on-the-head writing style. Complex and often conflicting emotions are rendered palpable and crystalline with this excellent storytelling.

I stumbled upon this wonder years after publication and confess that I was so taken with this book I listened twice. On the surface this is a simple story but somehow it artfully captures the exuberance of young adulthood and the devotion that can occur between a teacher and her students. Bynum also captures a myriad of Beatrice's relationships--some uncomfortable and embarrassing--with her small circle of friends, her co-workers and her family. So much depth is accomplished in such a short period of time that I was amazed.

To me this was a joy filled, occasionally silly but always heartfelt story. I loved it.




15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Was there a point?

I did not like this book at all. It was perplexing, boring and unnecessarily crude. I never felt like the author finished an idea. I kept thinking I had skipped chapters. I slogged through to the end in the hope that it would get better but it never did. It got worse. The reader did a good job with what she had to work with.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful