Karen Chandler's Reviews > The English Teacher

The English Teacher by Lily King
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's review
Aug 15, 2010

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Read from August 15 to 19, 2010

Some aspects of this book are wonderful, I think. The two main characters are very interesting. First of all, there's the mother who thinks she's in control of a life that she compartmentalizes to the point of neglecting her son and her own psychological health. She's out of touch with her feelings and needs, owing to a traumatic experience that remains undisclosed until the end (except for hints). Consequently, her actions sometimes result from unconscious impulses she's clueless about. King does a good job of balancing the woman's flawed consciousness with that of the son Peter, who has been stunted by his mother's lack of nurturing. Peter is a very likable character, and thus his affability balances his mother's sometimes monstrous, self-destructive behavior. A few other characters in the novel are engaging, and the parallel plot of the stepfather's children, whose mother has died suddenly, balances well with the story of Peter and the mother (I'm blanking out on her name). Yet King's plotting gets in the way of the character arcs.
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