I am so grateful to have received this book through FirstReads. I gave this three out of five stars – BUT I highly recommend it for the right person.
Who is the “Right” Person?
I favor plot-driven stories – the more complex the plot, the more twists and turns, the more I’m drawn to the story. This book is not that – if you’re expecting it to build to some climactic unexpected ending, that is not the case. This is a wonderfully written character-driven novel – you’ll have much of the plot figured out as you go and just be interested in how it happens and why it happens. For this reason, I did really enjoy this book. So if you enjoy slow builds and exploration of characters, Natalie Haynes does this so well that you can’t put the book down.
What It’s About
The Furies by Natalie Haynes is about a drama teacher in a “last-chance” school, and the consequences of discussing Greek tragedy. I know some reviewers weren’t big on the book because of believability – the teacher should have never got the job “just cause” she had connections. Sure, I agree. But that wasn’t a point of the story, and it didn’t detract from the story I don’t think.
I loved the integration of mythology in the classroom environment – the literary side of me loved seeing students intrigued and engaging in the story in some fashion. I also think that the youth were not stereotyped one way or another, but were each unique and complex with believable backstory that provided room for both empathy and frustration at their behavior – like most real-life situations I imagine.
One of my favorite quotes:
“Like most ostensibly bad children, as Robert had long maintained, they didn’t want to be bad. They were keen to learn how to relate better to each other, to their families and friends. They wanted to be happier and less angry. They didn’t enjoy the tantrums they nonetheless felt compelled to throw so frequently. They could usually understand that just as they didn’t like being shouted and screamed at, other people didn’t either. And if they couldn’t always make the extra step from recognising that fact to acting on it, that didn’t make them desperately unusual, for teenagers.”
I feel like that quote is both a great philosophy on youth who act out, as well as a great debate waiting to happen between those who have experience with the youth and those who like to think they know what they’re talking about. So much controversy, but a beautiful way of framing the problem at least.