I read this book when it originally came out as The Class Ceiling
last year. It’s being re-released on Kindle this week as The School Gate Survival Guide
and will be released in paperback later in the year.
The new title of this book really tells you what it’s about: school gate politics. The protagonist Maia has an unpronouncable surname, which is probably the only thing I didn’t like about the book to be honest. She lives in a less-than-desirable place, with a less-than-desirable partner, doing less-than-desirable work but one day finds herself in a position where her children are given scholarships to the local public school. Obviously, she stands out like a sore thumb and seems to instantly make enemies of some of the snobbier mums.
This part of the story is an extreme version of something we can all relate to. We all feel like one of the parents at the school gate looks down on us or sniffs at our children’s breakfast-smudged faces. Maia does meet a nice lady who becomes a good friend though, and muddles on through whilst developing a bit of a crush on one of the teachers at the posh school. This book highlights the distaste the English middle class often seems to feel for those occupying the lower
rungs of the social ladder. Some of the characters are so gloriously bitchy, they woke up my inverse snobbery and I found myself outraged on Maia’s behalf!
There was something about this book that just kept me reading. It’s a very easy read, but far from your average, fluffy school gate book; I felt like there was something of an intelligent undertone (if such a thing exists). The storyline was far from predictable, and there’s a twist toward the end that I definitely did not see coming.
There are a lot of “chick lit” books on the market that seem to have been published purely because “this sort of thing sells well” and not necessarily based on any sort of talent or quality. For me, this book stands a mile above a sea of dross. It’s well written, brilliantly thought out and expertly assembled.
Note: I was not asked to review this book; I have written about it because I enjoyed reading it, and thought my readers would too.