Thursday, August 03, 2006

Academy X

Since I work in a private school, and a NYC private school at that, when I read a description of this title in the Times, I knew I had to pick it up. A Nanny Diaries, if you will, for the private school set.

John is an English teacher at the tony Academy X. He explains to the reader the difference between new and old money, between religious groups and their money, and the insane NYC experience of getting your child into the right nursery school, so the child can go to the right elementary school, then the right highschool, and into the Ivy League. We hear of baby yoga and testing as well as ridiculous amounts of extra curriculars.

We are introduced to John's Austen class, and two girls who make his teaching worthwhile. Caitlyn Brie has everything. She is the girl that buys all the designer clothes, has the most popular boyfriends, the penthouse on the park...everything. Laura Sturding is middle class and gets her fashions from the outlet malls in Jersey. She works hard for everything that she has.

Then there are the parents. The parents for whom money is no object and when tution is $27000 they expect a return on their investment. And generally speaking, their kids are not putting in the hard work for the return.

We follow John through the last couple months of the school year, when acceptances have already been given out, new chairs are being appointed in departments, and scandal is sure to hit the senior class.

I found the beginning of this book very entertaining as it was structured somewhat as an expose of the Manhattan private school scene. I was reading the unspoken thoughts of many folks who work in NYC schools. Then Trees turned the story into John's story of unrequited love, a teacher's worst fear, and the politics behind the scenes at his school.

The degree to which the parents interfere and throw money around to "fix" problems is totally unbelievable and is nothing like I have ever encountered or heard about. It adds to the fun factor of the story, however. Just think, what would you do if a parent offered you six figures to make a problem disappear?

It was entertaining, but not as tightly written as I would have hoped. A first novel. A good summer read...especially if you work in an environment like Academy X!

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