What was she thinking?

is the title of a novel by Zoë Heller that I just finished. The fictionalized story of a 40-year old female teacher at a London high school who has a sexual relationship with a 15-year old boy, it’s told from the point of view of an acerbic, older woman teacher, in the school. Barbara’s observations are unsparing. For example, her description of the school:

“St. George’s is the holding pen for Archway’s pubescent proles–the children of the council estates who must fidget and scrap here for a minimum of five years until they can embrace their fates as plumbers and shop assistants….  Many of the younger reachers harbour secret hopes of ‘making a difference.’ They have all seen their American films in which lovely young women tame innercity thugs with recitations of Dylan Thomas. They, too, want to conquer their little charges’ hearts with poetry and compassion.”

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