Book review by Elizabeth A. White

Reviewer Elizabeth A. White writes:

Though the premise for Chain Gang Elementary sounded intriguing, I admit I went into it not entirely sure what to expect, just hoping to be entertained. What I got instead was a book that not only gripped and entertained me as much as any thriller – who knew grade school politics could be so damn Machiavellian? – but which also brings to the table some very timely issues about the state of education in America, especially as relates to standardized testing and its emotional and financial impact on students, teachers, and schools.

Author Jonathan Grant puts his experience as both a former journalist (newspaper coverage of the controversies that swirl around “Chain Gang Elementary” play a prominent role in the fight between Richard and Rutherford) and PTA president to good use, bringing a verisimilitude to the story that makes even the more extreme behavior of the parents and teachers disturbingly believable. Grant also uses well placed doses of humor to temper the seriousness of the underlying topics, and keeps the story moving along at a nice clip without ever getting bogged down in the more policy-centric passages.

Doing time at Chain Gang Elementary is (not so) hard labor you’ll actually enjoy being sentenced to.

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