MS. HEMPEL CHRONICLES

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Ms. Beatrice Hempel, teacher of seventh grade, is new—new to teaching, new to the school, newly engaged, and newly bereft of her idiosyncratic father. Grappling awkwardly with her newness, she struggles to figure out what is expected of her in life and at work. Is it acceptable to introduce swear words into the English curriculum, enlist students to write their own report cards, or bring up personal experiences while teaching a sex-education class?

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum finds characters at their most vulnerable, then explores those precarious moments in sharp, graceful prose. From this most innovative of young writers comes another journey down the rabbit hole to the wonderland of middle school,

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Ms. Beatrice Hempel, teacher of seventh grade, is new—new to teaching, new to the school, newly engaged, and newly bereft of her idiosyncratic father. Grappling awkwardly with her newness, she struggles to figure out what is expected of her in life and at work. Is it acceptable to introduce swear words into the English curriculum, enlist students to write their own report cards, or bring up personal experiences while teaching a sex-education class?

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum finds characters at their most vulnerable, then explores those precarious moments in sharp, graceful prose. From this most innovative of young writers comes another journey down the rabbit hole to the wonderland of middle school, memory, daydreaming, and the extraordinary business of growing up.

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  • Mariner Books
  • Paperback
  • September 2009
  • 208 Pages
  • 9780547247755

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$13.95

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About Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum first novel, Madeleine Is Sleeping, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2004. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Tin House, the Georgia Review, and the Best American Short Stories. She teaches writing at the University of California, San Diego.

Praise

“A hallucinogenic fairy tale that veers between the clinical clarity of hard fact and a surreal mysticism . . . Bynum’s lush, poetic imagery is full of vivid, sensuous details one can almost smell, taste, and feel.”—The Boston Globe

Discussion Questions