This book was fascinating. It was one of the more challenging things I’ve read recently. The book tells the story of a teacher who has an affair with a high school student. The book covers the reactions of the other students, and a local theater that uses the story as inspiration for a wildly creative play in the spring. The chapters about the girls are told chronologically; the theater pieces are non-linear. And it becomes increasingly difficult to identify the line between what is real and what is the play as the worlds start to collapse in on each other.
Part of what made this so gripping was that the books discusses the girls’ reaction to the scandal in an uncomfortable way. Some of the girls find themselves jealous, wondering why the teacher told her and not them. And some find themselves recognizing their own sexuality for the first time, although they’re still so young.
The saxophone is the binding instrument throughout the book; all the girls play the sax and most take lessons from a particularly invasive saxophone teacher. The sax teacher gives an uncomfortable but honest view into the girl’s lives, and into the way their parents react. You wonder if she’s actually saying these things out loud, or if she thinks them, or if she’s even real.
Overall, the book was uncomfortably frank. And her style of writing evokes the stream of consciousness of a teenage girl; the way the thoughts and dialogue are thrown out there – you feel like you’re in their heads, watching them learn about themselves and redefine themselves in the context of a scandal. It’s kind of fascinating.