Zany? Yes. Gripping? Sure. Offbeat? You betcha!

“Grant provides trenchant criticisms of educational policy … (with) acerbic wit.” – Publishers Weekly

Book Tackles Difficult Issues of Education, Parenting, and Bake Sale Embezzlement

 Chain Gang Elementary is a tale of war between a PTO president and a grade school principal, with casualties. “And jokes,” author Jonathan Grant adds. “It’s funny. It’s not so funny. I tell people it’s my revenge for being forced to read Lord of the Flies in high school.”

Setting PTO embezzlement and testing scandals against a backdrop of “diversity fails” and bitter culture wars, the novel’s plot seems like it’s been lifted from recent news headlines. Grant spent years working on the book, however. “When I was an elementary school PTA president, I wanted to write a non-fiction book—a how-to guide for parent leaders,” he explains. “Then I saw Murder at the PTA Luncheon. Actually, I came across this phrase: ‘Every good school is fundamentally the same, but every bad school is unique.’ This got me thinking, and being a novelist, I decided instead to tackle the subject as a cautionary tale, a “how-not-to” guide for parent-educator relationships.”

Grant also publishes the Chain Gang Blog (, his Darwin Award-ish take on crime, education, public policy, and whatever else he find weirdly fascinating. A typical headline: “Contrary to popular opinion, duct tape does not fix children.”

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Book Description: After a murder at Bonaire Elementary, Richard and Anna Lee Gray seek a good school for their son Nick in a safe neighborhood. Their search leads them to Malliford, a “school of excellence.” When redistricting sends scores of minority students to Malliford, iron-willed Principal Estelle Rutherford declares war on kids to raise test scores and save her reputation. Dissident parents revolt, electing Richard to head the Parent-Teacher Organization, and tensions explode. Welcome to Chain Gang Elementary, home to vast right-wing conspiracies, 3rd-grade gangsters, and bake sale embezzlers–where toxic childhood secrets boil over, reformers go stark raving mad, and culture wars escalate into armed conflict.

Author Bio: Jonathan Grant grew up on a Missouri farm and graduated from the University of Georgia. The former journalist and state government spokesman lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children. He is the author of the novel Brambleman and co-author/editor of The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia, a Georgia “Book of the Year.”

Chain Gang Elementary
A Novel by Jonathan Grant
336 pp., Thornbriar Press
ISBN 978-0-9834921-0-8
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9834921-1-5

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