Sunday, 13 August 2017

Book review : The Teacher's Secret - Suzanne Leal

Terry Pritchard, or Mr P, as he has been known to generations of kids at Brindle Public primary school, has everything it takes to be a great teacher - the kids like and respect him and he has their wellbeing at heart, both in and outside of the classroom. Then Ms Mathews arrives at the school, fresh out of college and intent on making her mark on her year's placement as acting school principal. From instantly rearranging a well-established classroom plan to spouting official jargon day in day out, she soon has everyone's backs up. Whether it is down to youthful over-exuberance and naivety, or a genuine desire to take down a man who refuses to scrape and bow to her as she desires, she soon has it in for Mr P. If you look hard enough, there is always a weak spot that can be exploited and Terry has an unfortunate secret in his past that comes back to haunt him.

It's a tender, heart-warming and fairly accurate look at what life is like as a teacher, highlighting both the positives and negatives of the experience. From Terry's hard-earned confidence and ease with the kids and their parents to Nina's struggles as a new teacher, it all rang true to me, from my own experiences. Ms Mathews comes across as a villain, but it is possible that her heart was in the right place and her decisions were just ill-judged. The plot is worryingly believable and the fact that there is no happy-every-after ending for everyone adds authenticity.

I did find it hard to keep track of everyone though. Each chapter switches to a different narrator, so as well as Terry, we get to know more about Nina, the new teacher going through a marriage break-up, Joan, her neighbour, Rebecca, the mother of the new boy, Mel, mother of the naughty kid in class, Sid, the school caretaker ... even Laurie (or Ms Mathews as she is known at work) gets a couple of chapters to help balance things out. By the end of the book, I had got to know all of them and understand their own private dramas and how they all connected, but I was slightly confused in the beginning. Despite the title, Mr P is far from the only one to have secrets in his life.

It's an enjoyable read with an intriguing and poignant story and characters that you can really relate to and empathise with. As a teacher, it's also reminded me to focus on the good times in class, rather than the negatives, but maybe that's because I'm in holiday mode at the moment !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £14.99

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (15 May 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785079077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785079078
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 3.6 x 14.4 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. It sounds like a lovely read, teachers should get more recognition for the amazing work they do year after year. My daughter has thrived this year with her teacher and is a bit apprehensive going into a new class in September xXx


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