Author: Anisha Lakhani
Release Date: August 5, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Satire
Review: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: *** 1/2 (out of 5)
From the dust jacket:
All she wants to do is teach. For Anna Taggert, an earnest Ivy League graduate, pursuing her passion as a teacher means engaging young hearts and minds. She longs to be in a place where she can give her best self, and give that self to her students. Turns out that isn’t easy.
Landing a job at an elite private school in Manhattan, Anna finds her dreams of chalkboards and lesson plans replaced with board families, learning specialists, and benefit-planning mothers. Not to mention the grim realities of her small paycheck.
And then comes the realization that the papers she grades are not the work of her students, but of their high-priced, college-educated tutors. After uncovering an underground economy where a teacher can make the same hourly rate as a Manhattan attorney, Anna herself is seduced by lucrative offers – one after another. Teacher by day, tutor by night, she starts to sample the good life her students enjoy: binges at Barney’s, dinner at the Waverly Inn, and a new address on Madison Avenue. Until, that is, the truth sets in.
Schooled is another entry in the genre of books that has cropped up over the last few years: a tell-all about a difficult occupation and the crazy life associated with it. (Other examples are The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, to name two). These usually involve encounters with the rich in which they act so ridiculous that it is difficult to believe that we are all the same species. Schooled is no exception to this rule.
Schooled was generally easy to read. However, while I was reading it, I had a nauseous feeling in my stomach the whole time. I could tell that the book was heading towards a train wreck of sorts, and while I actually was pleased with the ending, I didn’t like the anticipation it built up. Lakhani starts the book with a bit from the present (in which Anna is a tutor) and then goes back to visit the days when she first started teaching. Perhaps if she had written the book in chronological order, it would have alleviated this feeling of discomfort.
I also had a problem with the main character, Anna. Basically, I just didn’t like her. I felt like she was too easily manipulated, especially after how strongly she believed in being a teacher. She got angry with her best friend, Bridgitte (whose couch she was staying on!) because she chose to go to a work function (though admittedly superficial) instead of staying home with Anna, which leads to a ridiculous materialistic rivalry between the two. I do understand how Anna got sucked into the tutoring; I just think the manner in which she dealt with it at the end was completely out of character, and out of left field. While I liked her decision, I was a bit bewildered.
Overall, Schooled is relatively enjoyable, but I do have my reservations about it. If you enjoy the wave of tell-all books about occupations that have the reader dropping their jaw at the ridiculousness that is being portrayed, I can definitely recommend this book to you – you will like it, without a doubt.