Book Review: Not Quite There, Zoe Speakman

I was attracted to this book because of the Teacher Support Network interview that's linked below, where the author talks about her experiences of being bullied during her NQT year. Although the novel is supposed to be her turning her experiences into a story, and I appreciate that the author cannot reveal exact details of her experiences for legal reasons, this is not a sad tale of an NQT being bullied.

It's amusing in a chick-lit Bridget Jones sort of way, and the whole book reads as less of a comment on education and more about her love life and social life. While I did laugh out loud at the her taking one more look at a particular chap's sticky out ears before she left his house as a reminder, this is not the reason I picked up the book in the first place, and I think a person who did want to read about that sort of stuff would pass this by.

Similarly, the child protection type chapters written from the point of view of Charlie are also not what I was expecting from this story, and a person who would want to read them would not be reading this particular book. Perhaps this is more a lesson for her publishers on marketing than a lesson for the author on writing though.

For me, interested in her professional progression and her views on education there was precious little. I found myself actually flicking past chapters that I knew would just be about a holiday with her parents and not about the actual teaching or being in school.

Although I'm aware this is fiction and not fact, the teacher character in this book does not get bullied. Not one bit. In fact I think she is quite well supported. Her head tells her to take time off when she is upset after a particular event, and the Sally Barker character who is portrayed as the terrible mean one actually also ends up supporting her quite well through observations.

Because of this, instead of finding myself thinking, "That happened to me too, I'm not alone after all," as most books of this type do, my actual reaction was, "I wish I had had that." I also think the teacher is actually bordering on incompetent, although I won't point out exactly what she does as that would be a bit of a spoiler.  So, I found myself, for once, siding with the senior management team.

If you're a primary teacher and into chick-lit or those awful biographies that detail child neglect then go for it, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend it.

"I didn't see people cry at work, until I went into teaching!" Interview with Zoe Speakman


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