When you open up, who will you let in? When Alex Morris loses her fiance in dreadful circumstances, she moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past.
Alex takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, which accepts the students excluded from other schools in the city.
These are troubled, difficult kids and Alex is terrified of what she's taken on. There is one class - a group of five teenagers - who intimidate Alex and every other teacher on The Unit.
But with the help of the Greek tragedies she teaches, Alex gradually develops a rapport with them.
Finding them enthralled by tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, she even begins to worry that they are taking her lessons to heart, and that a whole new tragedy is being performed, right in front of her...
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books
- Publication Date: 06/03/2014
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781782392750
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Review by nicx27
Alex Morris moves to Edinburgh to take up a job at Rankeillor, a unit for children who are unable to be taught at a conventional school because of behavioural issues. Although she takes on several classes, the one the story focuses on is that of Mel, Carly, Ricky, Jono and Anneka. Alex teaches them Greek tragedies and eventually manages to win their trust. But Alex has her own issues to deal with following the tragic loss of her fiance from her life. This is a psychological thriller in that the main crux of the story is how the Greek tragedies Alex teaches to her students have an effect on them, one in particular, leading to another set of tragic circumstances. We know that Alex is involved in some kind of court case, and not one linked to her fiancé but that story unfolds alongside that of her life in Edinburgh.I found this to be a compelling story. The interweaving of the Greek tragedies, which were new to me, worked really well and how what the children learned from them linked with their actions was cleverly done. Alex, as overall narrator of the story, was very well written too and her feelings were explored effectively.I think this is an excellent debut novel and I hope that Natalie Haynes continues to write such accomplished work.