Readers picking up a Freida McFadden novel should go in knowing they are going to have to suspend disbelief—as this is an author who loves to craft the most twisted plots—but should also prepare to be glued to the page until the final moments of the book. In some ways, her latest suspense novel, The Teacher, is exactly what her fans would expect, but in other ways it defies expectations—in both cases it never fails to entertain.
The students at Caseham High are starting the new year under the shadow of a scandal that occurred the year before. A beloved teacher was fired under mysterious circumstances, but the blame has fallen on Adeline Severson. Addie is not looking forward to walking the halls again, but what choice does she have? Faced with bullying students and an ex-boyfriend who seems to have forgotten she exists, Addie just wants to stay at home and sulk, but her widowed mother won’t allow that.
Not what you would call a stellar student, Addie will have Mrs. Bennett—Eve—for math and Eve’s husband—Nate—who is generally considered the hottest teacher at Caseham for English this year. Actions over the course of the semester are going to complicate things for this trio.
Freida McFadden tells the majority of this tale from the alternating viewpoints of Eve and Addie. This author is so skilled at getting into the mindset of a teenager that the chapters from Addie’s point of view feel completely authentic—at times uncomfortably so. But the same verisimilitude exists when she is writing Eve’s chapters, allowing the reader to truly understand the feelings of being in a crumbling marriage and knowing there is something better out there.
The Teacher has moments that seem so outrageous it requires the reader to just turn themselves over to the storyline and forget about these “issues.” But by doing so, it allows the author to eventually plunge to deeper depths to expose the real issues that allow this type of behavior to occur in the first place.
The twists, when they happen, seem organic to what McFadden has presented and while they may not be totally surprising for fans of psychological suspense, their ramifications do take the storyline into some unexpected directions. There are great breadcrumbs that are subtly planted that make some late novel reveals particularly satisfying.
The Teacher moves along at a breakneck speed keeping the reader invested from start to finish. It will no doubt please Freida McFadden’s existing fans and will certainly bring new readers into the fold.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.