Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West
Perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High–the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle–and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.
Isobel Johnson knows helicopter parents like Julia Abbott–a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives–come with the territory. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who have started pulling further away from her.
Isobel has spent her teaching career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the high school’s winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female student-lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video footage goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.
With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site that’s stirring up more trouble for this tumultuous, fractured school community.
February 4th, 2020
Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is a nuanced look at school politics at a prestigious school in an affluent Minnesota community. Written with humor and plenty of drama, West succeeds at sharing a look at high school life from the perspective of a well-meaning teacher who gets caught in the web of meeting the demands and expectations of parents/administrators and other teachers. We meet a slew of characters who set the scene and it is all too relatable to anyone who has ever been a part of a school community, whether as a teacher, parent or both.
There are helicopter parents, bullying on social media and conflicts between faculty and families. And then there are the students just trying to get through their high school years. The overbearing parents rule the roost at this school and West shares a great balance of laughable moments that seem totally unbeliever (unless you have been there and then you get it!) mixed with insight about just what students AND teachers are up against these days.
I found Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes to be a light read with a great mix of thought-provoking and timely topics many of us can relate to. While some of the storylines may seem over the top, for me, they added to the complexities schools deal with in this digital age. I did struggle at times with keeping track of all the characters but all in all, this was a very enjoyable book that would make for a great book club discussion!
More about Author Kathleen West:
Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, two sporty sons, and very bad Goldendoodle.
For more information, please visit: https://www.kathleenwestbooks.
Thank you to Berkley Publishing for an advanced copy.
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