Rated it: 4 stars Recommended it to: Everyone, especially teachers and their charges.
He shamed them, wrestled with them, enlightened them, and – ultimately – learned to live them. Mr. Braithwaite, the new teacher, had first to fight the class bully. Then he taught defiant, hard-bitten delinquents to call him “Sir,” and to address the girls who had grown up beside them in the gutter as “Miss”.
He taught them to wash their faces and to read Shakespeare. When he took all forty six to museums and to the opera, riots we predicted. But instead of a catastrophe, a miracle happened. A dedicated teacher had turned hate into love, teenage rebelliousness into self-respect, contempt into into consideration for others. A man’s own integrity – his concern and love for others – had won through.
The modern classic about a dedicated teacher in a tough London school who slowly and painfully breaks down the barriers of racial prejudice. It is the story of a man’s own integrity winning through against the odds.
“A book that the reader devours quickly, ponders slowly, and forgets not at all.” – The New York Times
I read this more than a week and a half ago so I’ll admit my memory and initial impressions aren’t that fresh. Also, this would be the third attempt to review this because two times already when I was about to save it everything was wiped almost squeaky clean. Need I say more? To Sir, With Love is in part an autobiography and part fiction set in what I average to be somewhere near the late to mid 1940s or early 1950s in the lesser fortunate parts of London at the Greenslade Secondary School, which I think is fictional too.
When it begins, on his first day Mr. Braithwaite was commuting to the school in the company of a busload of lively and sociable housewives, we the readers confront the first instance of the major theme in the book: racism, one many of us know only too well. Continue reading