Don't Tell Teacher by Suzy K. Quinn
Shelves: abuse, adult-fiction, books-i-own, crime-thriller-mystery, mental-health, read, read-in-2021, realistic-fiction
Description via Goodreads:
School should have been the safest place…
For Lizzie Riley, switching her six-year-old son Tom to the local academy school marks a fresh start, post-divorce. With its excellent reputation, Lizzie knows it’ll be a safe space away from home.
But there's something strange happening at school. Parents are forbidden from entering the grounds, and there are bars across the classroom windows.
Why is Tom coming home exhausted, unable to remember his day? What are the strange marks on his arm? And why do the children seem afraid to talk?
Lizzie is descending into every parent’s worst nightmare: her little boy is in danger. But will she be able to protect him before it’s too late?
Don't Tell Teacher is one of those books that is quite hard to review without giving away any spoilers - but I will do my very best. This was a book unlike any other that I've read before which was as equally as intriguing as it was anxiety-inducing!
The story revolves around Lizzie who has moved her child, Tom, to a new area and a new school after fleeing from problems with her abusive ex-husband, Ollie. Shortly after moving to his new school, Tom's behaviour and health begins to deteriorate and it soon becomes clear that someone is controlling and hurting him. Throughout the book both Lizzie, social worker Kate and the reader try to discover what exactly is happening.
Throughout, we are introduced to the perspectives of several different characters which makes for fast-paced, easy reading but sadly does not allow any of the characters to build any great complexity. I was particularly disappointed with the narration of the social worker, Kate, who initially seemed as though she had so much potential but sadly was under-developed as a character. There is such an important message within this book about the issues within social care - the fact that many of the workers are dangerously overworked, underfunded and generally under-supported despite their important work. Bringing awareness to these issues is of great importance and what was covered was well done but I think there was even more potential to explore this.
I can't say that I didn't become frustrated and a little confused at some of Lizzie's actions, though this became more comprehensible by the end of the book. I did have my suspicions of 'whodunit' by the middle of the book which turned out to be correct, but Quinn did a great job of cleverly making me doubt myself throughout. Despite my predictions, I still really enjoyed the twist at the end as it's something that I've not come across before in a book and it's definitely a jaw-dropper.
On the whole, Don't Tell Teacher was a gripping, easy-to-read book that kept my attention throughout. I wish the characters had been more complex, but as a psychological page-turner, I would certainly recommend this book for anyone looking for a compelling read and I will definitely look forward to reading more by Suzy K. Quinn in the future.