love-and-other-subjects-coverReviewed by Krista Castner

Kathleen Shoop has published three books in two years, and I’ve been lucky to review all three for Luxury Reading. Unfortunately, I’ve liked each subsequent book less than the prior one. I consider her latest effort, Love and Other Subjects, to be Chick-Lit while Shoop describes it as, “a quirky, post-college coming of age story”. This is a departure from the Historical Fiction genre of her two prior books, The Last Letter and After the Fog.

In Love and Other Subjects, Carolyn Jenkins is a first year teacher. Even with her Masters degree in Education, she hasn’t landed a plum position. She’s teaching thirty-six fifth and sixth graders in a combined classroom in an inner city Washington D.C. school. Two months into the school year she’s shot in the foot, albeit just with a BB gun, by one of her mentally unstable students. Her dogmatic and irrational principal seems to have it in for her. To top it off she can’t seem to break up with her boyfriend who she hasn’t loved for a couple of years. All this is explained in the first chapter. The rest of the book details how she tries to survive her first year in the classroom and find a decent loving relationship.

There are plenty of ups and downs shared during the school year with her two roommates who are also teachers at her school. The petty, ridiculousness of the principal, Mr. Klein towards Carolyn was really hard for me to fathom. I had no idea why he singled her out for his special brand of torment. Carolyn does hold her own in the classroom and by the end of the year she even triumphs by forging her own method of reaching and teaching her students. That’s the bright spot in the book.

Shoop has a PhD in Reading Education. Her familiarity with the classroom shows in her well-written classroom scenes. I enjoyed those portions of the book. I got a sense of how overwhelming it would be to be a brand-new teacher in a combative environment. Where the book fell down for me was in the interactions Carolyn had with her two roommates. I found Laura and Nina to be more annoying and demanding than helpful as roommates. Carolyn’s on-again off-again relationship with an FBI agent named ‘Jeep” also didn’t ring true to me. There wasn’t enough character development between the two of them.

There were some funny scenes that had me laughing out loud. But there were also scenes that left me shaking my head wondering where one or the other of them got off in their treatment of each other. Ultimately Carolyn does triumph. She makes it through the school year, and actually manages to educate her students. I’d give this book 2.5 stars if I could, but I’ll grade on the curve and give it 3.0 stars instead.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by BookSparks PR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.