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Class Dismissed: A Year in the Life of an American High School, A Glimpse…

by Meredith Maran

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312283091, Paperback)

Few writers can duck inside the world of teens without resorting to clichés, but journalist Meredith Maran manages to give sideline reports from the lives of three high school seniors without relying on stereotypes or typical adult incredulity. Perhaps it's because Maran's own sons recently passed through the same halls at Berkeley High, but most likely it can be chalked up to solid reporting and writing. A reporter who followed up on a story assignment and spent the 1999-2000 school year in this microcosm of society--dubbed "the most integrated school in the nation"--Maran illustrates some of today's most serious societal problems through the three teenagers she shadows. There's Autumn, a biracial achiever whose father is long gone, forcing her to hand over paychecks to help support the family. There is Keith, a black football jock who struggles with laughable remedial courses, run-ins with the police, and his own illusions about sailing into college on an athletic scholarship. And there is Jordan, the rich white kid who battles with senioritis, as well as depression, a year after his drug-addicted father dies. Along the way, Maran examines academic tracking, school safety in the wake of Columbine, teen sex, suicide, school system politics, decaying campuses, and the everyday trials of being a teenager--and a teacher--in today's high school. There's no hype, just incredible detail and description. Maran manages to be everywhere in these kids' lives and, to her credit, the subjects become living, breathing people, not mere case studies. And readers will find themselves rooting for these teens. Even the most cynical observers will feel they've been granted an insider's view of the drama that plays out daily in our public schools. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:28 -0400)

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This gripping story - a year in the lives of three high school seniors and their school - takes us deep into the hearts and minds of American teenagers and American society today.

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