Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First Published: October 12th, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fiction, School Life, Friendship
It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.
Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.
You always remember the teachers you’ve had in school, especially those who have helped you in some way – those who were there for you, managed to broaden your worldview and taught you as much about fields of study as life itself.
Mr. Terupt is that teacher. Everyone has something going on, making them think and behave in a particular way. Indeed, Peter, Jessica, Luke, Alexia, Jeffrey, Danielle and Anna have their own stuff to deal with and they’re used to dealing with it on their own.
So the last thing they expect of their new school year is to meet a teacher who cares as much about school as his own students. They feel as though Mr. Terupt understands them better than anyone else. Suddenly the students are looking forward to going to school every day and realize some things about themselves and others that change them for the best.
The changes in behaviour and thinking happen gradually – nothing is rushed. The story itself, however, is fast-paced and easy to get through in one or two sittings. But the beauty of it is that while it is narrated by seven different students, the students have more in common than they believe, and some of their stories overlap, therefore I never felt as though the author focused on too much at once.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. It moved me. It made me joyous and sad. Most importantly, I could picture every one of these characters, because they were very realistic. I’ve had a teacher like Mr. Terupt before. She was a woman and Black and amazing – so caring, smart and endearing. She helped me feel comfortable in the classroom, seeing that I was a new student, and told me I could talk to her about anything – and I did.
Which brings me to this: this book is not diverse at all. As you may have noticed, the names of the students (and teachers) are common names for Americans – and that’s not the end of the world, true, but it’s also true that classes have kids from other nationalities and so I am a little disappointed with the lack of diversity.
But let me end this review on a good note by saying that I expect students and teachers who read this book to learn from it, because it’s full of love and hope and humanity.
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