deejah's Reviews > Ms. Hempel Chronicles

Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
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Nov 17, 2011

Read in September, 2010

This was a week where I had no idea what I was going to read. Then I happened upon this article http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-an... where author Jonathan Franzen (THE CORRECTIONS) recommended four ovelooked books. I love when instances like this occur, since I was truly drawing a blank as to which book would be the winner this week.

What this "novel" winds up being is a series of short stories featuring Ms. Hempel. She is a 7th grade teacher that tries to impress on her students that the words that they use to define one another and themselves can stick. She also delves into stories of her past that have shaped her into the person and teacher that she is today. The book is at times cohesive and scattered...I find it interesting that we don't find out that the main character is Chinese until almost halfway in. It does nothing to propel or change the story, but it is interesting how we picture a character if we are given no descriptions from the author.

I believe that teachers (middle school in particular) would truly appreciate this book and those of us not in the profession can find some value in it as well. This is a well-written book that is a quick and interesting read.
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