Love and Other Subjects

Fiction - Womens
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 04/11/2013
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Carolyn, the heroine in "Love and Other Subjects", is in over her head at the inner-city school where she teaches, and the principal, Mr. Klein, takes every opportunity to let her know he is aware of her deficiencies. He is mean and petty, and has instructed his secretary to listen in on her lessons via the public address system. Carolyn's private life also has its ups and downs -- her live-in boyfriend Alex is not really the love of her life, and she is afraid of sending him on his way. Her other roommates, Nina and Laura, however, are her bulwarks in life. They are also freshman teachers at the same school, albeit in somewhat less demanding circumstances. One teaches physical education, and the other has first-graders instead of Carolyn's mixed bag of fifth and sixth-graders. After a particularly grueling day at school, Carolyn stops into a seedy bar and meets what could be the man of her dreams.

Kathleen Shoop's style is witty and bright. Carolyn is the teacher I would have loved in grammar school. She is funny and disorganized, but she is also a dedicated teacher who goes the extra mile to get her students motivated and into learning. Her roommates are the perfect foil for her, and Jeep, her maybe dreamboat, is everything a girl could wish for with one exception -- his baggage is the rest of his family, the sisters who are all called Mary and who will do their best to make Carolyn run far and fast. There are times when I just sat there and laughed out loud. This is a very funny book and I highly recommend it.

Stephanie Dagg

"Love and Other subjects" by Kathleen Shoop is not your average romcom. Carolyn Jenkins wants to make a difference. She really wants to give the kids she teaches a head-start in life. She is a driven person, but also rather insecure and over-aware of her own faults. And there are some very difficult characters at school to deal with, not the least of whom is the Principal. Her home life isn’t much easier. She has recently broken up with Alex and isn’t finding her friends Nina and Laura as a great means of comfort at the moment. The fact that she is very socially gauche doesn’t help. Can there really be a man out there who can take her for what she is and love her? The wonderfully named Jeep might fill this role but Carolyn has so many other things to try and cope with. Does she have time to work on a relationship too?

This is a very readable and entertaining story. Carolyn is an idealistic young teacher juggling enthusiasm and self-doubt. Totally human. She’ll do anything for her kids to give them a chance in life but doesn’t look after her own interests at times. She is very well-portrayed and is a totally likeable heroine. The love interest, Jeep, is intriguing. Wealthy, surrounded by off-the-wall sisters (all with Mary as the first half of their name), and stubborn, he is not the easiest of men but he is a genuine enough guy. And he has a brother in law called Ford. There are lots of touches of humor like this that make the story so enchanting. It is earthy too in places, which matches our heroine and adds a certain amount of gritty honesty to the book.

Kathryn Bennett

"Love and other subjects by Kathleen Shoop" takes us into the life of Carolyn Jenkins. Every woman wonders if she chose the right career path and Carolyn Jenkins is no different. In her life she strives for two things: to be the greatest teacher and to find true love. Unfortunately for her she does not seem to be overly good at either one of them. Carolyn is a suburban raised woman who has a compassion for people who do not fit into society. This upbringing never prepared her for the weapon toting struggling students, drug using colleges and a mean principal she would have to deal with at the school. In the love department she has a fresh new relationship with a mystery man that ends up being put out before it could get started by his pack of eccentric sisters. While Carolyn has friends who help her through the hard times she really must in the end decide who she is. She must truly define herself as a person and an individual.

I have to say I really enjoyed this book. Carolyn did take a little bit for me to warm up to as a character. Her heart is in the right place but occasionally she has a funny way of showing it. However, once you adjust to her quirks she really is a good character. Kathleen Shoop has written a good and interesting story that takes us on a path that several of us walk throughout life. Women ask themselves, whether they have I chosen the right career or the right love. It is a relate-able story that brings you easily into it. I would recommend this to any woman reader who wants to feel as though the story could be their own.

Rebecca McLeod

Carolyn Jenkins has good intentions but the worst possible luck with her teaching career. She has been saddled with a martinet of a principal who insists on school spirit salutes, a classroom of desperately needy ten and eleven year olds, a boyfriend who is still waiting for her to spontaneously develop homemaker skills, and two roommates who have their lives in enviable order, and now she has been shot in the foot by a student—and blamed for not having the borderline psychotic student “under control”. After the day from hell, she heads out to the bar and meets a mysterious man who somehow makes her feel appreciated in a way that her boyfriend never has. The trials of their relationship and Carolyn’s “baptism by fire” with her pupils depict the difficulties of learning how to connect with others and get the most out of everyday interactions.

I was filled with new admiration for teachers who teach in difficult districts, and I really enjoyed how Carolyn learned to adjust her teaching focus so that she could reach her students. The sheer idiocy of peer-approved lesson plans designed by people who have never taught children is lovingly detailed, along with all of the characterful staff on board at Carolyn’s school. Carolyn is a likeable heroine, but the best writing is by far saved for the children who are depicted in these pages: vulnerable, worldly but startlingly naive, and, in the end, surprisingly sweet.

Maria Beltran

Carolyn Jenkins has always wanted to be a teacher but when she gets what she wants, it is not how she imagined it would be. An overbearing principal, unruly and dangerous students, and drug-using colleagues make up her work environment. This is a situation that could make anyone quit the job as soon as they can but not Carolyn. Armed with a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at herself, she perseveres and struggles. When she meets a man and falls in love with him, she has to deal with his eccentric family too and what follows is a string of funny incidents that tickle the heart and the mind.

"Love and Other Subjects" is a story that many people can relate to. The main character can be the girl next door struggling with a new job. What makes her extraordinary is her attitude towards the challenges that she faces. The author's endearing style should not fail to get the sympathy of the readers and this is where the novel succeeds. Those who are suckers for happy endings would have heaved a sigh of relief when Carolyn meets the man who could be her soul mate but things will not turn out to be the stuff that fairy tales are made of. Kathleen Shoop's restraint in handling the romantic part of the story is admirable. Above all, it is the wit and humor that makes this story a must read for everyone. This is a book that can make anyone's day a little brighter.