Master Class by Christina Dalcher

Release Date - April 21, 2020

Master Class is the most engrossing, irritating novel I've read in a while. Don't get me wrong. I did love it, but I also became so angry as I read it. What made me so angry? The fact that this novel isn't too far off things that happened in the past. I'd never heard of this dark part of history. Thanks so much to Berkley for allowing me to be part of their blog. I'm delighted to share this book with Roundtable readers.

It's not the world we know anymore. Women have their fetuses tested in the early stages of pregnancy to determine if it's worth carrying them to term. Children take tests to check their "Q" levels. Children with high Q's go to the best schools. Those who score low get sent to low-tier schools in the Midwest. Teachers are tested and teach children at their approved level.

It's a world where children with behavioral issues or challenges with learning don't take a teacher's time away from the smarter children. It's a world that Elena Fairchild questions. One of her daughters has a high Q while the other's is slipping. Test days cause panic attacks. When Elena's youngest does poorly and is put on the yellow bus headed for Kansas, she's not okay with it. She's a mother and will do whatever it takes to get her daughter back.

I couldn't help but question if Betsy Devos was the model for the head of the Department of Education. If she wasn't, I'd be shocked. The similarities seemed clear to me. The story is packed with characters you'll love and others that you'll hate. Elena's husband baffled me. I just could not see falling for him. It was hard to find any redeeming qualities in that scum.

My heart broke for many other of the characters who were forced to watch their children get carted away. Or, the children who were tested despite being clearly terrified on the test days. It was those characters I attached to and wanted to keep reading to see if there would be any type of justice by the end of the book.

This administration makes me think that things that happen in this book really are not that unbelievable. I've seen neighbors post things in local forums about wishing the slower students could be removed from the school systems in order to cut costs. I've seen people question why the smarter children aren't just grouped together in their own schools. Clearly, people do think like this.

This is a great story. I was hooked. This was my second Christina Dalcher novel, and it won't be my last. The writing is fluid and draws you in. It's easy to become attached to the characters. When you reach the ending, you'll be left craving time to digest the plot and how we are always one step from making horrible mistakes like those found in these novels.


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