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Chain Gang Elementary Paperback – August 12, 2011
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"Grant provides trenchant criticisms of educational policy ... (with) acerbic wit." - Publishers Weekly
"Jonathan Grant just might be my new favorite writer. You want to laugh? Grant writes with smart, sardonic wit. You want to be moved to tears of heartbreak or rage? Grant can get you there, too. And, he does it all within a story that speeds along like a bullet train and keeps you turning page after page. Chain Gang Elementary might be every parent's nightmare, but it's a hell of a read, and I highly recommend it." -- Mama Zen, The Zen of Motherhood
"... Chain Gang Elementary is darkly funny, entertaining, well-written, and has a great deal of heart." -- Shay's Word Garden
This book is (what) Desperate Housewives wishes it could be." - Indie Books List ("Book of the Month" award)
"Required Reading: If you've ever clashed with a principal or fretted about passing a motion at a PTO meeting, you'll be able to relate to some of the challenges faced by Richard Gray, a work-at-home dad who becomes PTO president in Jonathan Grant's novel. ... In addition to being an entertaining read, it tackles issues like school violence, racial discrimination, and teaching to the test." - PTO Today
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Top Customer Reviews
He's a Southern male that isn't a simpleton, a redneck, or a dandy...I mean...Charlestonian.
When Richard is drafted to be head of the Parent Teacher Organization at Malliford Elementary, he is aware that his presidency will face obstacles. The aging Miz Rutherford is at once Principal, non-benevolent dictator, and Nurse Ratched to the children and parents who inhabit Malliford. She's not fond of Gray's impudent questions, or the changes he would make in student life.
Rutherford is intent on making her school a "five-star school of excellence". The only people standing in the way are Richard Gray, agent provocateur Rita Malloy, and the academic pariahs that inhabit the Chantilly Arms apartment complex. Of course, the school isn't racist for wanting to reassign them to another school. It's strictly an issue of test scores and property values.
This is where the war begins. This war will be won not through frontal assaults, but from good old-fashioned skulduggery and passive-aggressive behavior. This book is the show "Desperate Housewives" wishes it could be, and has the scathing social satire "Suburgatory" pretends to provide.
Gray's personal life is hopelessly endangered by his success as PTO President, with his son Nicholas providing an unbiased look at the effects of his professional achievements.Read more ›
Author Jonathan Grant has his roots usually in non-fiction newspapering. He served as a school parent association president, and with his dad, wrote the acclaimed book
The Way it Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia. Coincidence? Others have called Chain Gang autobiographical; Grant claims it is not.
The human condition often takes a beating in the book. Good teachers and administrators seem scarce as the book's protagonist and father, Richard, agrees to become head of the Malliford Elementary parent organization. It is not officially a national parent/teacher association unit. The national group dropped it when a previous treasurer ran off with the treasury and other hanky-panky took place.
Richard's efforts to tutor non-Caucasian students new to the school, start teacher in-service training or replace an art teacher sound like current themes chronicled in Education Week or some other pedagogical publication. Through all of the hassles and hurdles, however, some good teachers remain, like Mrs. Little, who cares for kids in and out of her class.Read more ›
I highly enjoyed this novel. It was exceptionally well-written, the dialogue was crisp, and the characters were completely believable. I found only a couple of formatting errors, and most importantly, once I got into it, it had me enthralled.
The hero, Richard Gray, is a parent at the school, who winds up falling into the position of Parent Teacher Organization president. Since this is his story, most of the people on his side (the protagonists) are fellow parents and PTO members. Many of the ANtagonists are teachers and administrators at the school. Believe me when I say, the LAST thing I want to read is another round of teacher-bashing (which seems to be getting way too prevalent nowadays), and I will admit that I was a bit anxious when I started getting into the "battle mode" of the story. However, this is not at all a work of teacher-bashing. There was a very heroic teacher (who was of course labeled "the worst teacher at the school"), along with several other common-sense, cause-friendly teachers at the school. The teachers and administrators who were "enemy combatants" were truly idiots and awful people. I found myself getting angry at their actions, thinking that if I or anyone I knew did those sorts of things (putting in a cartoon then lying down in the teacher's lounge, while kids got into fights in the classroom, for instance), I would want to take legal action myself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There were so many things I enjoyed about this book. Jonathan Grant has an excellent way with words and it's apparently throughout the whole novel. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Brittany
This is a perfect book for teachers to read. All teachers can relate to the problems presented in the plot, including prep for the state test.Published on July 24, 2014 by Cynthia Smith
The twists, turns, and complexities of his novel leave the reader unbalanced at every turn. The charactersreacted in totally unimaginable and unexpected ways, proving that noone... Read morePublished on April 12, 2014 by Barbara Gruver
Great story, the middle was a little slow but the end picks up. A book with mystery, affairs and suspense.Published on March 16, 2014 by Jen Woffy
The book being based around the life of a PTO president made it different from other books I've read recently. Read morePublished on July 13, 2013 by Clare K
Grade schools are often microcosms of world situations and nowhere is that more evident than in the talented Jonathan Grant's novel CHAIN GANG ELEMENTARY. Read morePublished on August 5, 2012 by Grady Harp
This review can also be seen on my blog, Now is Gone.
Book Info: Genre: Satiric Literary Fiction Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free copy of... Read more
Maybe I'm just biased because I'm a teacher, but...I loved this book! I completely related to the shady politics of public schools, the idea that "no good deed goes unpunished,"... Read morePublished on July 12, 2012 by Heathergerl