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Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes

by Kathleen West

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11416211,148 (3.81)None
Perfect for fans of Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High--the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle--and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts. When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.   Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community's high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she's in the spotlight. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school's winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.   Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. The Liston Heights High student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that addresses parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.… (more)
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Absolutely enthralling- over the top ridiculous, yet completely on point when considered from a satirical point. I loved it. ( )
  SallyElizabethMurphy | May 20, 2021 |
Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is a nuanced look at school politics at a prestigious school in an affluent Minnesota community. Written with humor and plenty of drama, West succeeds at sharing a look at high school life from the perspective of a well-meaning teacher who gets caught in the web of meeting the demands and expectations of parents/administrators and other teachers. We meet a slew of characters who set the scene and it is all too relatable to anyone who has ever been a part of a school community, whether as a teacher, parent or both.

There are helicopter parents, bullying on social media and conflicts between faculty and families. And then there are the students just trying to get through their high school years. The overbearing parents rule the roost at this school and West shares a great balance of laughable moments that seem totally unbeliever (unless you have been there and then you get it!) mixed with insight about just what students AND teachers are up against these days.

I found this book to be a light read with a great mix of thought-provoking and timely topics many of us can relate to. While some of the storylines may seem over the top, for me, they added to the complexities schools deal with in this digital age. I did struggle at times with keeping track of all the characters but all in all, this was a very enjoyable book that would make for a great book club discussion!

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an advanced copy. ( )
  genthebookworm | Dec 19, 2020 |
If you liked "The Gifted School," you may enjoy this story of another group of high-strung parents. It's the story of how Facebook almost ruined the lives of two women, teacher Isobel Johnson, and parent Julia Abbott. Lots of "yoga pants moms" and clever kids. A quick, suspenseful read. ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
Kathleen West's upcoming novel, Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes, tells the story of teachers, admin, parents and students at privileged Liston Heights High. The characters start as stereotypes -- the crazed theater mom with a not-terribly-talented son, the liberal English teacher, the naive and overworked new teacher, the dully officious admin, the teenage girl following her Feminism 101 checklist -- but soon the interlocking stories pull you in.

The setting is great, and while the characters are set in conflict with each other, pseudo-voluntary educational dumbfuckery is the real enemy here. It's not enough for teachers to teach well and be liked by students, they also need to make a certain number of positive phone calls to students' parents and be well-liked by helicopter mom brigade. It's not enough for students to go to class and do their homework, they also need to be busy filling their future college app with sports, arts and community service. And, not everyone can be the lead in the school play (or the captain of the sportsball thingy), and that's where high-strung helicopter moms come in. A college-prep high school is full of conflict and drama, and the story takes us through all different aspects.

There are too many moments when the characters are Just Too Much for me. The English teacher is just a little too amazing, and that made it hard to empathize with her. (All her lesson plans are tops and she has time to mentor a new teacher? Sounds fake, but ok.) Some of the backstories were way too much, so it felt less like a slice-of-life novel about real humans at a real school, and more like a morality play about the dangers of helicopter parenting and the stress of high school. ( )
  TheFictionAddiction | Aug 12, 2020 |
A fun take on helicopter parenting, social media, and high school theatre. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Jul 30, 2020 |
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Perfect for fans of Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High--the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle--and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts. When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.   Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community's high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she's in the spotlight. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school's winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.   Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. The Liston Heights High student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that addresses parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.

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