Friday, July 15, 2016

No Child Left Behind by Claudia Casser

“Weirdo” loner Geoff Moraine would rather die than spend high school in rural West Rock zonked on ADHD drugs or banished to Special Ed.

But then Lord Kemp, the leader of a band of meta-human refugees from a war-torn parallel universe, zaps Geoff’s attorney mom into becoming his “Retainer.”

Now all Mom thinks about is setting up a prep school on Lord Kemp’s estate to hide the “Fulgoran” refugees in plain sight. A school where Geoff and other neurodivergent West Rock kids could get custom-tailored courses. Which sounds like a great idea, if you don’t know Lord Kemp’s friendly tutors are brain-meddling mutants!

As Geoff fights to protect the Special Ed kids, armed only with a hat lined in foil and magnets, he finds allies—and actual friends—in the strangest places.


I'm a parent of a child with ADHD. That's the main reason I chose to review No Child Left Behind.

Geoff is a well-meaning teen who fully understands how his ADHD makes him different. But he finds that his unique brain is actually well-suited for this new experience with aliens living in plain sight. I love this idea that his "disability" actually makes him superior to other humans in dealing with an unbelievable situation.

The story is told from Geoff's point of view and from that of Lord Kemp, a visitor from an alternate universe. Multiple POVs can be difficult to write and sometimes even harder to follow. But the voices used here are distinct that the reader doesn't get confused. That's important and it takes skill.

Overall I enjoyed the story. Geoff is an endearing character. He made me laugh. He warmed my heart as I compared him to my own son and his way of looking at the world.

No Child Left Behind is over 400 pages which I think is too long. It could have been edited down quite a bit. There seemed to be a lot of nothing going on in the earlier chapters. But I wouldn't discount the book because of that. I recommend this book to teenagers with any kind of disability who feels frustrated with a world that doesn't understand them. I also recommend it to their parents because, as I've said before, books can be a powerful tool in understanding another person's journey.

Also, be sure to check out Claudia Casser's page Ethical Antics.

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