Tracy Kidder the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of a New Machine and the extraordinary national bestseller House spent nine months in Mrs. Zajac's fifth-grade classroom in the depressed "Flats" of Holyoke, Massachusetts. For an entire year he lived among twenty schoolchildren and their indomitable, compassionate teacher sharings their joys, their catastrophes, and their small but essential triumphs. As a result, he has written a revealing, remarkably poignant account of education in America ...and his most memorable, emotionally charged, and important book to date.
Christine Zajac teaches fifth grade in a racially mixed school in a poor district of Holyoke, Mass. About half of her students are Hispanic; many come from broken homes. Through Kidder's calmly detailed re-creation of Zajac's daily round, we come to know her students' fears and inmost strivings; we also share this teacher's frustrations, loneliness and the rush of satisfaction that comes with helping students learn. It's a tough job: in one social studies class, half the pupils can't name the country they live in. Kidder ( House ; The Soul of a New Machine ) writes with sensitivity of Zajac's Irish-Catholic roots, of the need for educational reform and of the Holyoke Puerto Ricans' struggles for equality and success. We see Kelly School as a compelling microcosm of what is wrong--and right--with our educational system. Author tour. (Sept.)