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Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed Hardcover – July 27, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1609764111 ISBN-10: 1609764110
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Editorial Reviews

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"Received this book a day ago and I could not put it down!"
"This book is a little jewel."
"Beautifully written." 
"I was completely blown away by this story!"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609764110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609764111
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,075,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David W. Berner--the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE--was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE--the 2013 Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association--is the author's story of a cross-country road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read."

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scott E. Dillard on August 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I must start this by stating that I teach in that school district, in fact, in a middle school (not Cowherd).

I'm pretty sure I was around at the same time period the author was teaching for his one year there. As the title of my review states, I feel that there is a bit of an exaggeration of the conditions of the school, students, etc. Literary embellishment comes to mind.

I did give the book a 4 star because there is enough there that is probably true such as there not being a principal in place as the school year approached, never meeting the administrators of the school until just before school started, the professionalism and the backbone of the school in the janitor, and taking all the supplies before they were gone. Finally, it also received a 4 star because I do like a good biography/autobiography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Happy Reader on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I laughed and cried through the entire book! You don't have to be a teacher to appreciate this story, it is for anyone who has ever dug deep inside themselves to find the better person. What a great read! Keep writing Dave Berner, it is a gift to us all!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Brenizer on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book not only for teachers but for anyone that is thinking they are stuck in life. This book hooks you right away. David shares his humanity and opens up all kinds of doors as you read this book. He has an engaging writing style so you won't be bored. He lets the reader in as he describes his "mid-life" journey. Not a crisis but a crossroads where he takes the road less traveled to discover his passion and reignite those things that tend to die in us at a certain age. He found himself by helping others....go figure! But these lessons are learned in time and it is time worth spending with David. Perhaps if you are like me, this book will serve as a meditation that may help you to let go of some pain or disappointment and think about your passion. It's never to late to reclaim our enthusiasm. I really enjoyed this book. Thank you David for sharing your story with us!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles Cassidy on April 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
"Accidental Lessons" is a wonderful first book by Dave Berner. His student characters jump off the pages as individual personalities who are confused, conflicted, sad and funny. There's great insight into the way some school districts write off troubled kids in poor neighborhoods and encourage teachers to simply get through the day by keeping students busy. Berner's personal life and feelings about his divorce, father's death and career change are powerfully relatable.

I read "Accidental Lessons" on a flight to Ireland and it made the trip feel much shorter. I look forward to Berner's next book...and the one after that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Nelson on January 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dave Berner's book reminded me that no matter what your age, you never stop learning, about yourself or others. Throughout this novel, both the teacher (Berner) and his students discover new insights about themselves and their situations. His descriptive, concise writing style allows the reader a clear view into a pivotal point in Berner's life. Furthermore, this story reaffirms that life will continue, and can continue positively, even when you find yourself in a situation that you never expected to be! Kudos to Berner for this easy to read, uplifting novel about his life. Even though he has left the junior high classroom, his memoir can still inspire others!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gene on April 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book rings true for a lot of people. It's not just about teachers, it's about all of us who are trying to find out who we are, what we want to be, and how to find our place in the world. I've read other things from David Berner and listened to him on the radio for years in Chicago, and this is as solid as his other work as a reporter and writer. Good read!
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By Angel Lover on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Berner comes to teaching later in life, married, with two children of his own. His marriage is in tatters. Even if he’s a proven journalist, he doesn’t seem to have any other choices before him, so he chooses to teach in a middle school of a very poor district of Chicago. Though he’s older, he’s still fooled by some students’ tricks. He witnesses students who live amid some very difficult situations. He makes personal contact with a few, taking his sons to see one of his student’s baseball game. It makes a difference with his rapport. Slowly . . . it’s always slow . . . he begins to build rapport with all of his classes. He keeps the fact that he’s completed a favorable interview for a college teaching position elsewhere in the city. When he finally tells his principal, and then his pupils, he feels as if he’s betraying them. But even the principal is thinking of leaving, so she doesn’t hold him at fault. He leaves feeling that he could stay in this building for the rest of his career; on the other hand college teaching is what he’s always wished to do. Teaching people to work in radio is his field, not basics of grammar for adolescents. It is the dilemma that many teachers face. I love the pure act teaching, but how can I support my family on this salary? How can I build a future? Can my nerves take this for a lifetime?

The book has sort of a self-published feel to it—not because it is weak or poorly written. It’s just that the time period seems not worthy of an entire book; it’s only 170 pages long. One year of teaching, as Berner presents it, might have been better focused as a long article or essay.
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