Carolyn See reviewed Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (Harcourt, 2008) in the Washington Post today (9/5/2008). It's a book for adults, a series of interconnected stories (one of my favorite forms) about a middle school English teacher who actually likes her students. There's more, of course--Ms. Hempel is new to teaching; new even to her own, grownup life: according to See, she's "doing her best to fake her way into the adult community" (sometimes I feel as if I'm still doing this myself, and I'm 36).
I'm particularly interested in how this newness plays out in the classroom. See gives one example: "She assigns Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life to her seventh-graders, and when a proverbial pill of a mother objects to the strong language on Parents' Night, Ms. Hempel stands up for truth and authenticity in literaure and, unexpectedly, wins the day." Maybe she should have assigned Old School? At any rate, (the?) Ms. Hempel Chronicles is on my to-read list.
I should note that the cover is gorgeous, too.