Cover Image: The Faculty Lounge

The Faculty Lounge

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Member Reviews

5 stars from me!

I was a teacher for 32 years, and The Faculty Lounge by Jennifer Mathieu is spot on. I found myself laughing throughout the book. It starts with an older man who is found dead on the couch, in the teacher's lounge, while he is subbing. From everything from parent emails, to professional development, to school romances, The Faculty Lounge brings to light what staff members at a school go through each day. The best part, though, is it is told in a humorous way showing how different staff members reacted to different situations. It isn't a whiny book about these situations, which made me like it even more.

If you are an administrator, office staff, nurse, counselor, custodian, or teacher, you are going to relate to this book. You are going to want to tell your colleagues about this book. On top of that, you are going to think of this book when something happens at school that makes you laugh. I kept picturing different people that I have worked with as the different characters are introduced.

Please, please....if you know me, please don't throw my ashes in the front yard of my school when I die.

Thank you to Dutton and Jennifer Mathieu for sharing this book with me. This is my honest opinion. Now I can't wait for my friends to read it, so we can talk about which of our colleagues they pictured when they read the book.

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As a former elementary school librarian, this book rang so true! A teacher is found deceased in the faculty lounge and it sets off a chain of events that affect many of the teachers and staff at the school. The author must have worked in a. School, or at least done an amazing amount of research for it, because I have met, in some form, each one of the main characters. I love how each character has a layered backstory. This was a book that I loved through the last page. I will be looking for more from this author.

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I’m so happy I read this book. Firstly, I didn’t initially recognize the author’s name, but I loved her YA book, Moxie. Matthieu has a super fresh voice, and is able to deliver heavy messages with a light hand. She never seems preachy, but her books are thought provoking and meaningful. This seems to be one of her only adult books, and it was one of my favorites of the year. As someone who works in a library, I related to the characters so well- under pressure, under appreciated, surrounded by various societal challenges… I admired so many of the characters and the way they persevered through difficult circumstances and found joy amidst the difficulties of their jobs… it was tremendously uplifting, and renewed my faith in the educational system. If educators like these are real, we will all be ok. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-arc.

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I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever been a teacher. Having been in the classroom myself for twenty five years, I recognized people she described. I loved that the story was told through one school year and through different perspectives.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest feedback.

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Astute slice of life novel examining the motivations or lacks thereof of teachers and humans in the microcosm of a high school in the US. The book changes perspective from chapter to chapter, but deftly maintains the story arc. Beautifully written, characters are flawed but loveable.

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Solid 4⭐️ I think anyone who teaches, especially high school teachers, or is in the public education sector should read this! It was so funny and so real. I loved how modern it was. There was so much diversity in these characters and so much life in them as well. I loved how there was a variety of experience, and ages, and background, and relations. I love how, for me, it reminded me how human our teachers/staff are. I feel like, especially being a younger person, I can sometimes forget teachers/professors, administrators, staff have hobbies, have human issues, experience grief, have personal interests, etc. I thought this book beautifully captured the humanness in the teaching and education realm. With the characters, also, I appreciated that we saw some who were very passionate about their field and others who weren’t quite as enthusiastic. I’m glad it wasn’t portrayed that every teacher is *super amazing*, *loves kids* because, although that can be true, it isn’t true for every single educator. Something else I enjoyed was how this book examined, a little, how education has changed. Education 30 years ago does not look the same as it does today, and we get to see how some of these more veteran staff members handle that and the issues that come with that. A few issues that I had with this read was that I struggled following the timeline occasionally. It was chronological, but it wasn’t evenly divided throughout the school year, if that makes sense. I also feel like there are sensitive topics in this book that should be taken into consideration for certain readers. Overall, I enjoyed this read! I laughed, I cried, I had a good time! Top-notch characters with such detailed and individual experiences!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Group Dutton, for this raw and magnetic ARC!

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Good book with an okay story. I liked the main character and the book as a whole was good. Wish it had moved a bit faster in the story.

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A cozy book with each chapter focusing on a different faculty member. Not too deep, but lots of feel good vibes here.

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Absolutely loved this book! As an educator myself I felt as if I knew these characters. This book made me smile and cry. It will stay with me for a while. I will definitely recommend it to many friends.

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As a former teacher, this book rang true on so many levels! From the interpersonal relationships to understanding the sometimes absurd circumstances teachers find themselves in, this book covers it all. I found myself laughing out loud in spots, no doubt having experienced similar situations myself. I liked the format, in that we got to learn more about a different employee in every chapter. From the school counselor to the elderly substitute teacher, each person played an integral part in building the school's history.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Admittedly, I went into this one slightly skeptical. I've read a lot of books set in schools that make me wonder if the author has ever actually set foot in a school (especially YA novels set in high schools. No teenager talks like that. And there's not nearly that much drama.) I was refreshingly surprised.

Set in a present day Texas high school, The Faculty Lounge tells the story of a year in life of the Baldwin High School staff. Pretty much every event could have been pulled from my 14 years of teaching (except - thankfully - for the dead sub in the teacher's lounge). The characters felt real, painting teachers as we truly are: not martyrs, not saints - just people doing our best to impact the next generation. I saw pieces of myself in almost every character: the new teacher, optimistic and confused; the veterans who are just over all the nonsense; the counselor struggling with personal loss and simply trying to make it through the day; the teacher who's questioning if this is even what they want.

If anyone wants a realistic look into education in 2024, this is a good place to start. The vignettes provide insight into a variety of perspectives in modern education. What it lacks in plot it makes up for in character.

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This read more as a series of short-stories than a well-rounded novel. Nevertheless, I did like the school setting and the concept: a retired teacher who has come back to substitute teach dies on the faculty lounge couch during a break. The other teachers and staff share their stories of how this old teacher was part of their own life and career.

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This was such a sweet book! I loved the characters, and their love story. The dialogue was realistic and enjoyable.

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Currently get my M.Ed and this book just felt so warm. I loved reading about all of the teachers and seeing how they interact because it felt genuine. This is definitely a slim plot book, but I enjoyed that. I felt immersed in each chapter because it read like a mini biography of each teacher and their relationship with the school. Also, I'm not typically a fan of emails or texts being use in a book, but Mathieu made good use of them and it added to the plot. The way they were formatted was easy to follow (even on a Kindle).

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As a current high school teacher who is trying to figure out whether this is a sustainable career to stay in for the next 25 years, this book hit a LOT of nails on the head. It made me both realize the impact we have on a day to day basis but also further reaffirmed by current qualms about how much of our lives we are devoting to others and how under-appreciated that is. Despite this being in Texas and me in Canada, there are so many true parallels and I felt like I could place my own colleagues working the staff list within the book.

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This was a cool book! I would describe it as vignettes maybe? Each chapter focuses on a different staff member of the school and while different characters show up/are mentioned in other chapters, each is sort of a stand-alone. It really captured what it's like to work in a school. I'm not sure if this book will find wide appeal outside of educators though.

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I DNF this book. I couldn't get past the first 3 chapters. It was very slow getting started. I put it down and tried again later, but still could not finish this book.

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5 stars

Having read a couple of this author's YA novels, I expected that I'd enjoy this most recent effort, but I did not anticipate enthusiastically loving it, and that's exactly what happened. If you've ever worked in a school at any level (I'm a college professor), you will almost certainly connect with every aspect of this.

The novel begins with an on-campus death (nothing gruesome), and this serves as the basis for readers to learn about many of the teachers and staff who make up the school. Each chapter is, in fact, devoted to one of these loveable and intriguing characters, which allows for some riveting character development, world building, and empathy heightening. All of the archetypes are present, but because readers get to know them personally, it's easier to get invested in each one than it would be if this novel were organized in a more traditional fashion.

Unlike earlier generations, folks now seldom retire from the first jobs they get as "adults." One exception to this cultural shift is in education, and it's a bizarro little microcosm to look around at people you've seen go from newlyweds having babies and buying first homes to folks losing parents and spouses, battling chronic (or even terminal illnesses), and ultimately retiring or moving on in other ways, not to mention the many milestones, triumphs, and heartbreaks in between. There's a sense of mystery to your coworkers in a space like this, but - by virtue of the years we often spend together - there's an unusual intimacy in these roles, too. Mathieu captures this seemingly paradoxical closeness and alienation expertly, and along with the character building and a surprisingly moving set of messages, this makes for an absolutely standout novel that I'll be recommending widely, but especially to my fellow educators. This was a real treat to read, especially in the second week of a new semester.

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This newly retired teacher librarian couldn’t resist the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Faculty Lounge by one of her favorite YA authors - Jennifer Mathieu. Mathieu did not disappoint with this adult title. Mathieu gives her readers a glimpse into the lives of teachers, counselors, and administrators in a Texas public school. The novel begins with the unfortunate death of a retired substitute (in the faculty lounge, of course). A series of events that follows allows Mathieu to explore day to day life in the public school system.

Mathieu creates what almost reads to me like a series of short stories expertly woven together with the overarching narrative. In my experience, this structure is not unlike the school experience. Teachers remain in their spaces much of the day - doing their job with few breaks, but the overall operation of the building creates camaraderie, friendships, and tensions that are shared. Through these chapters she addresses much of what creates the tension and the need for camaraderie. Educationally - she covers standardized testing, teacher evaluation, mandatory trainings, book challenges, helicopter parents and so on… I was amazed at the accuracy with which she captured most teachers’ responses to most of these. I can remember thinking that if it weren’t teachers reading the book, they might not believe it. Additionally - she covers topics like abortion, immigration, alcoholism, and so on…tying each carefully to the educational system, clearly illustrating the effects of issues that may not seem at first blush to be tied to education on our children.

Perhaps most fascinating to me, among all of this she creates a huge cast of characters with joys and sorrows, successes and failures, dreams and fears - just like anyone. We get to know them well - just spectacular characterization. These folks were like my friends. Mathieu beautifully communicates the passion that sends lifelong teachers into the classroom each day. She captures the love of a subject, the joy of creating understanding in a student, the satisfaction of a lesson well taught. She articulates these right alongside the stresses of the job. I was not surprised when I read in her bio that she is, in fact, a teacher herself.

Possibly I visited the faculty lounge a bit too soon after retiring. I felt maybe a smidge of PTSD in several places throughout the book which ultimately speaks to its excellence. But as I’ve been reflecting on my career, I appreciate being reminded of the joys of teaching that can be chipped away over time. I guess unsettled best sums up how I felt. Ultimately, I think, perhaps at some level - “unsettled” might be exactly Mathieu’s intent for her readers. If we are unsettled we are more likely to advocate for change. A friend sent me a graphic last night that illustrates the increase in teacher resignations from 2019 to 2023. Change will have to happen to keep our schools well staffed to create students ready to deal with 21st century challenges. I find The Faculty Lounge by Jennifer Mathieu to be an important novel and also a lovely introduction to an engaging group of people.

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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, this novel captures the true difficulties that exist in education today. The struggles of classroom teachers are depicted painfully and realistically.

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