Tuesday, 15 October 2019

The Unteachables - Gordon Korman

The Unteachables
Gordon Korman
ISBN 9781443182010

eISBN 9781443170178

This was the second Gordon Korman novel we have read in as many weeks. After reading Restart, my son and I each picked two other books by him and picked up the eBooks. My Sone can read on his iPod and I can read on my phone during my commute to work. And we can share about our experiences with the story and have conversations around the books. Sometimes when we really get into one, we will also read it together in the evening. So you might be asking why 4 books by Korman, we each had preferences for which ones we wanted to read. So I gave in a bit and we each got 4 and have a book to read each week for the next month together.

First this book was one of my picks. I picked this and Ungifted. My son picked Slacker, and Level 13. And we went with this one first because my son had picked Restart. We both loved restart, and to be honest we love this one just as much. The story focuses around the student in SCS-8—Self-Contained Special Eighth-Grade Class, and a teacher less than a year from retirement who his assigned to the class. The teacher assumes he is assigned to this class to make him quit, but with one year until he is eligible for early retirement, he believes he can make it through anything. The kids in SCS-8 are the end of the line. No one believes they can be taught or that they can learn, and it is an odd assortment of kids. And Then there is Kiana Roubini who is here because her mother is on a movie set, and staying with her dad, it is just supposed to be a few weeks. She is a short timer. And her situation is more complicated than any of the other kids in SCS-8 or Mr. Kermit their teacher. 

The story is told in alternating first person perspectives. From different characters including students, teachers, Jake Terranova, the superintendent. The chapters are:

One: Kiana Roubini
Two: Mr. Kermit
Three: Parker Elias
Four: Aldo Braff
Five: Mr. Kermit
Six: Mateo Hendrickson
Seven: Kiana Roubini
Eight: Mr. Kermit
Nine: Parker Elias
Ten: Kiana Roubini
Eleven: Barnstorm Anderson
Twelve: Parker Elias
Thirteen: Mr. Kermit
Fourteen: Dr. Thaddeus
Fifteen: Mateo Hendrickson
Sixteen: Parker Elias
Seventeen: Mr. Kermit
Eighteen: Kiana Roubini
Nineteen: Parker Elias
Twenty: Jake Terranova
Twenty-One: Kiana Roubini
Twenty-Two: Mrs. Vargas
Twenty-Three: Kiana Roubini
Twenty-Four: Barnstorm Anderson
Twenty-Five: Kiana Roubini
Twenty-Six: Mr. Kermit
Twenty-Seven: Kiana Roubini
Twenty-Eight: Mr. Kermit
Twenty-Nine: Parker Elias
Thirty: Aldo Braff
Thirty-One: Mr. Kermit
Thirty-Two: Kiana Roubini

At the beginning the students and Mr. Kermit are just traying to make it through the year. But something happens. First Mr. Kermit goes to bat for a couple of the kids, and the kids once they realize he is on their side, try and do something for him. After the bonding over those events the hearts of both are changed. And We begin to see what can happen with a little hope and work. 

The story makes me think of a grade 8 version of Welcome Back, Kotter. I have a dual form of dyslexia, and spent grade 3 in a class like the one described in this book. If not for some exceptional teachers, and a special summer program I would not be the reader and bibliophile I am now. This book does an amazing job of capturing the feelings of students in those kinds of situations. 

This is an excellent book! And as I mentioned earlier, I have picked up 3 other Korman Titles and have added 6 others to my wish list, for future reading. With my son, and if I cannot wait for him rereading with him after I have read them. An exceptional book a Middle Grade read but great for readers of all ages.

Reviews of other books by Gordon Korman:
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
The Emperor's Code - 39 Clues Book 8
One False Note - 39 Clues Book 2

The Unteachables
War Stories
Ungifted Series:

Slacker Series:
Level 13

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