The Teachers Secret, written by Suzanne Leal, is set in a small community which has a lot going on. The local school stages most of the book, with one of the central characters Terry Pritchard, an older teacher who loves his classes and students who are being bullied by the new headmaster. Terry is a salt of the earth man – he will do anything for anyone, has a strong part in the school community and a level head. however a secret from his past means he must leave teaching.
The Teachers Secret is written with each chapter from a different character. This is a bit difficult initially, as there are many characters and their stories are in no way related, some until the last quarter of the book. This means you need to be able to keep track of a lot of characters and their stories – this isn’t a strong point of mine and I did struggle through with this a bit.
There are a few different stories – Terry and the bullying he endures and how it affects his life. There is also Nina – whose marriage breaks down, and she is left to parent, manage her ex-husbands new relationship, and her own move to the town to take up Terry’s position where she is drawn into Terry’s story as well as small community life. There is also another character who lives in Africa and whose husband is in Australia. She is threatened and flees to Australia with her son to be with her husband and seek asylum – this also occurs in the community where Terry lives.
The different branches of the story come together eventually, but it is quite convoluted at times. When it does come together in the end it shows a beautiful community coming together to support others, accept each others difference and working together for the community.
The Teachers Secret is a nice story about human kindness, small communities and the need to look out for others and try our best to work together.