In less than two hours, I had cried my way through this schmaltzy, sentimental cameo of a former wrestler (like the author) who turned into a combination Mr. Chips/To Sir With Love, with a touch of John Keating’s creativity in Dead Poets’ Society. Told in the voice of seven children in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class, the story spans one school year.
The wise young teacher creates innovative learning activities and manages the cruelty of girls and the rambunctious freedom of boys, all while looking out for those quiet ones. Despite the traumatic incident that stops the action, he continues to be the steady influence.
I’m not sure why the story got to me, but I am a sucker for the Hallmark channel soapy offerings. It seems unlikely that middle schoolers who have read some of the classics Buyea mentions in the book would suffer through this story. Being in the world of fifth grade for a while made me grateful I’ll never have to go back.