Monday, January 30, 2017

New novel "Class" takes on education, parenting, and values

White guilt. White privilege. Support for liberal values and public education goes head-to-head with the competitive world of social class and egalitarianism in the new social satire Class by writer Lucinda Rosenfeld. This new novel joins the ranks of novels exploring the complicated world of "competitive parenting" amidst the public-private school dichotomy in New York City. I'm only a few chapters in at this point, but I am enjoying Rosenfeld's enthusiastic and insightful spotlight on the challenge of doing what's "best for our kids" while also holding political views and values that are often much easier to hold in the abstract than in practice.

For idealistic forty-something Karen Kipple, it isn't enough that she works full-time in the non-profit sector, aiding an organization that helps hungry children from disadvantaged homes. She's also determined to live her personal life in accordance with her ideals. This means sending her daughter, Ruby, to an integrated public school in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

But when a troubled student from a nearby housing project begins bullying children in Ruby's class, the distant social and economic issues Karen has always claimed to care about so passionately feel uncomfortably close to home. As the situation at school escalates, Karen can't help but wonder whether her do-gooder husband takes himself and his causes more seriously than her work and Ruby's wellbeing.

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