Title: Hope Against Hope
Author: Sarah Carr
Synopsis from the back of the book
Geraldlynn is a lively, astute 14-year-old. Her family, displaced by Hurricane Katrina, returns home to find a radically altered public education system. Geraldlynn's parents hope their daughter's new school will prepare her for college--but the teenager has ideals and ambitions of her own.
Aidan is a fresh-faced Harvard grad drawn to New Orleans by the possibility of bringing change to a flood-ravaged city. He teaches at an ambitious charter school with a group of newcomers determined to show the world they can use science, data, and hard work to build a model school.
Mary Laurie is a veteran educator who becomes principal of one of the first public high schools to reopen after Katrina. Laurie and her staff find they must fight each day not only to educate the city's teenagers, but to keep the Walker community safe and whole.
In this powerful narrative non-fiction debut, the lives of these three characters provide readers with a vivid and sobering portrait of education in twenty-first-century America. Hope Against Hope works in the same tradition as Random Family and There Are No Children Here to capture the challenges of growing up and learning in a troubled world.
As a teacher, I always enjoy reading books about my field. I also have always been interested in books about Hurricane Katrina. This book combined two of my interests into one volume. These facts are what first drew me to add this book to my TBR list. The book followed a teacher, principal, and a family at three different school, post-Katrina, in New Orleans. Each chapter followed the three different subjects over the course of the school year. It was interesting to see the three points of views as it approached the different aspects of how a school is run. I enjoyed each person's contributions to the book, that I am not sure I cold choose a favorite. I grew up in the suburbs of Pennsylvania and attended a private school from K-12, where college wasn't even a question. The schools and areas that the book took place were completely opposite from my upbringing. Each of the three schools were charter schools located in rougher parts of New Orleans. The main focus of all three of the schools was getting as many students as possible to attend college and put a big focus on tests that prepare students for the tests that help them get into college. It was very mind-opening to see the differences my upbringing and the many trials the students at these school face everyday. It is always a bonus when a book can open your eyes to the differences of people in the same country.
I really did enjoy reading the book, but it didn't always hold my attention. About half of each chapter was spent focusing on the history of the New Orleans public school system and the history of charter schools in general. Those parts of the book I pretty much skipped over. I more enjoyed the parts that focused on the three different people in the book, and was why I originally chose to read it. I recommend this book for all educators out there and for anyone looking to broaden their horizons on the education system in America.