'Killing Mr. Griffin' by Lois Duncan

Great Book for Teens Returning Back to School

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan, book coverKilling Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan is a great book for teens returning back to school from their summer vacation.

Mr. Griffin, an English teacher at Del Norte High School and a former English professor at a local university, recognized that students in his college classes struggled miserably with respect to writing complete sentences and submitting written assignments with lackluster effort.  In order to fully equip and train students to become more diligent and disciplined in regard to their mastery of the English language before entering college, Mr. Griffin decides to become a no-nonsense high school English teacher.

Mr. Griffin develops a reputation as a stickler for excellence and a teacher who does not accept student’s excuses for mediocrity.  This mindset causes Mr. Griffin to be despised and disliked by the students in his English class, particularly Mark Kinney. Susan McConnell, a junior in Mr. Griffin's class, is persuaded by Mark and other classmates to lure Mr. Griffin into a trap so that he can learn how it feels to be humiliated and ridiculed by his students.
 
While Susan is the protagonist, Duncan masterfully allows the reader to hear the voices of all the characters in the story, from David Ruggles’ elderly grandmother to Griffin’s pregnant wife.  This book is an action-packed thriller for every high school student (9th-12th grades), who feels that their teachers are too critical and push them to hard to become better students.

Duncan cries out to students, teachers, and parents alike to no longer accept being good, but to put the time and effort in to becoming great. Great students who don’t wait until the last minute to turn in work; great teachers who do not seek the validation of students, but rather challenge their young minds; and great parents who take the time to raise their children instead of proclaiming their child’s innocence.

The amount of time and effort that Susan and her friends strategized to plan to harm Mr. Griffin, chould have been used to perfect their English assignments.  Duncan allows the reader to see that society kills Mr. Griffin every day when students are not held to a standard of excellence. 

Reserve your copy of Killing Mr. Griifin by Lois Duncan today at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library.

-- J. Strickland