by Jo Noelle
Publisher: Little Box Press LLC
Published: Aug. 16, 2014
The housing market is crashing, and Sophie’s life is crashing with it. At twenty-four, her successful real estate career evaporates. She’s broke, can’t find a job, or pay her bills, leaving Sophie wondering how her successful lifestyle became so fragile.
At the urging of her roommate, Sophie accepts a job in her fallback career—teaching six-year-olds. She hopes it’s temporary. After all, how long can a tanking economy last anyway? The best part of the new job is Liam, another employee at Rio Grande Elementary. The worst part of the new job is, well, teaching.
Sophie has a surprise real estate closing from a contract she wrote months ago, leading her to a niche in the real estate market and to a new partner, Kevin. Sophie must choose between Liam or Kevin and between a lucrative career or recess duty.
When I finish, Mrs. Hays summarizes, “So you’ve only had experience in third grade?”
I nod my head, and she scribbles in the notebook again. She seems less than impressed.
“We’d like to get an idea of the type of decisions you would make as a teacher. What would you do for a student who is having difficulty learning to read?” Mr. Chavez asks.
Oh, my gosh, I’m interviewing for first grade! What am I thinking? The students all have to learn to read this year. If they don’t, it will be my fault—no college, low-paying jobs, generational poverty with dirty children and grandchildren.
Focus. Stay calm. Just finish the interview. Then run! “I think the first thing might be to listen to the child read and try to get an idea of what is easy or hard for him or her. Then I can make better choices for them in future lessons.”
Mr. Chavez smiles at Mrs. Hays, and she asks in a nasal tone, “Phonemic awareness, metacognition, zone of proximal development—sound familiar?” Her eyes lock on mine as a grimace grows, pulling her lips thinner.
Nope, none and not at all—she’s speaking teacher and I’m not fluent. “No,” I say with a contented smile to hide how rattled I feel. “I realize there’s a lot for me to learn.” You cow. “I’m willing to work hard for these kids and learn from experienced teachers.” Yes, I’m schmoozing you, Mrs. Hays, and you know I’m not serious. I intend to stay as far from you as I can.
Mr. Chavez turns to Mrs. Hays and asks her if she has any more questions.
“Help us get a clearer vision of your discipline ideas, Miss Kanakaredes,” she says to my earrings. “With which theoretical perspective on discipline do you agree?”
“Is there one based on mutual respect, genuine concern and teaching students what is expected? Children want to succeed and be accepted—my discipline plan will include those values.” P.S. Mrs. Hays, we all want that
A real estate broker who only becomes a teacher because she can't find anything else to do and she's flat broke - makes it sound a lot like teaching is easy money. Just spend a few hours a day with a bunch of children, teach them a few things and then send them home. Maybe that's what Sophie Kanakarades thought when she first took the job. She certainly wasn't planning on sticking around for a long time - just until the real estate market picked up again.
I liked the way this book was written. The story was told from the first person point of view, and included Sophie's thoughts, which brought a lot of humour to the story. Sophie also wrote a blog during her time of teaching and those blog entries were included in the text of the story. The mix of storytelling, interjected thoughts and blog entries gave Newbie a light feel and made it a humorous read.
I liked most of the characters in the book. I did not however like Mrs. Hays. Unfortunately, there are a few Mrs. Hays in the teaching world. As a teacher myself, I could relate to the number of extra hours outside of class time it takes to prepare for teaching. Sophie mainly talked about lesson preparation. She didn't mention report card preparation, or marking (of which there is not a huge amount in grade one).
My favourite character was Liam. He's the kind of boyfriend every girl dreams of. I liked the clean romance Newbie. It added to the pleasure of reading the book.
The secondary characters like Beth were given enough depth to make them interesting and for us to care about them. I wanted to know whether Beth's baby was a boy or girl, but she didn't have the baby by the end of the book so now I won't know plus I won't know how Beth is afterwards. I kind of feel like Beth is my friend too.
I loved the twists and turns in the plot of this book. I found Kevin's (Sophie’s real estate partner) sneakiness absolutely despicable and he got what he deserved for pulling that stunt on Sophie. In teaching not a lot goes as planned and so there are always a lot of surprises. Sometimes attempting to get through a day of teaching can be a day twists and turns in itself!
Newbie was a humorous, light-hearted look at teaching and a beautiful clean romance. I would highly recommend it for all ages teen and older. I gave it 5 stars out of 5.
Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
About the Authors:
Oh, and by the way, she’s two people— Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team. They began writing separately several years ago but found the process much more fun when they started collaborating. They are debut authors, with Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life as their first completed work. Other titles include Newbie and Damnation. Deanna attended college before marrying and starting her family. Canda received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialist endorsement, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Her day job focuses on teaching teachers and children about literacy.
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