I would like to thank Open Books and Jon Bennett for sending me this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
To Hell with high school!
The American education system is turned inside out when a frustrated teacher incites his students to stage an uprising.
In a poor suburban community in southern Ohio, Dieter Vogel is a failing English teacher at a high school populated predominately by minority students. He is bullied by the basketball coach, neglected by the principal, ignored by his crush, Esther, and pressured to workout with Jose, the art teacher. At the end of the first day back after summer break, Dieter is visited by Satan, who takes the initial form of a Twinkie. Satan convinces Dieter to overthrow the school mascot, Gretel the Pretzel, so that the Devil can take its place. Dieter is promised Esther’s love and the position of principal in return. All Dieter has to do is follow the Devil’s advice and use classic literature to manipulate the students into a racially charged frenzy against the mostly white staff.
I honestly did not know what to expect when I requested to read and review this book. I think what sold me was when I read that the main character, Dieter, is visited by the Devil, in the form of a Twinkie.
Yes, this is definitely what sold it for me.
I did not at all think that this book would be at all humorous but it was – which made it even better. The relationship between Dieter and the Devil was so bizarre and brilliant that I couldn’t wait for their next interaction in the book.
We travel with Dieter throughout the story. A 25-year-old who lives with his mother that drives him to work every day, (which is the high school he attended) while creepily lusting over his high school crush (Esther) from afar (but everyone knows about it).
I liked Dieter, he is a very interesting character and I pitied him – a lot. He is bullied by other staff members, his students don’t listen or respect him and his mother, I’m pretty sure, is embarrassed by him.
Throughout the book, I saw Dieter develop into an entirely different character than the one that I was introduced too at the start.
The pacing of the story was steady. At times I wanted to speed things up as I was so eager to see what would happen next and where the story would go. There was nothing a time where I felt particularly bored – it was definitely a book that I could not put down.
The writing was superb. The author was able to slowly build and develop the drama within the school and it’s students – ultimately creating chaos. This is what had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It really captured my attention and made me think about the racial issues presented today; how we must do better.
I think this is definitely a book that everyone should read. Not only is it funny and entertaining but it gives you an insight into how schools are fighting for racial equality.