Don’t Tell Teacher by Suzy K Quinn is a page-turning, jaw-dropping read with many twists I did not see coming. The book is mainly told from the perspectives of Lizzie, the mother and Kate, the social worker which I thought made for an incredibly interesting read. The social worker perspective is not one we’re given often and that made it more intellectual and therefore enjoyable for me.
Don’t Tell Teacher follows Lizzie, who has fled her ex-husband Olly with their ten-year-old son, Tom to a new town and he’s enrolled at a new school. This is one of the best schools in the area, but with the headteacher putting bars on the windows and not allowing parents to drop things off during school hours, it makes some of the parents uneasy, including Lizzie.
Kate is Tom and Lizzie’s overworked social worker who is dedicated to making sure that he settles into his new life. But when Tom has multiple seizures and looks like he has injection marks on his arm, Kate is in over her head. Who could be mistreating Tom? And why?
What I liked
I liked the fast pace of this plot. I felt that I learned a lot in every chapter, bouncing from Lizzie’s past to her present and then to Kate’s perspective to round things off. This gave the structure of the book an easy flow and made me feel like I wasn’t wondering what had happened when, where or why. This structure also meant that no detail was missed, as things were analysed by young Lizzie, older Lizzie and by Kate, so instead of repeating things as could have been done in a single narrative book, this allowed for reminders of things and then for a separate outlook on them.
I also thought that Tom was a great character and was used so well to show the true trauma that he was put through. From a psychological perspective, he and the Neilson boys were the most complex and interesting characters. I would love to see a book about them told from Kate’s perspective in the future. I will say that I admired Kate a lot but was rooting for her to go home and have fun with her husband, as she was too dedicated to the job.
What I didn’t like
Firstly, I thought the title was great, but since reading it, it is a little confusing to me. The actual school part of the storyline was perhaps lacking, only in that we never found out anything about the headteacher’s methods until right at the end and it didn’t have much bearing on the rest of the plot. Yes the headteacher is corrupt, but that entire sub-plot could have happened on its own separate to the rest of the plot, which made it feel weak. I would have preferred if the headteacher had had a bit more to do with Tom’s well-being, as otherwise his villainy is not up to scratch.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is tense and dramatic and the kind of domestic thriller that I cannot help but devour very quickly. I would recommend this book to people who love domestic thrillers, especially Lesley Kara’s The Rumour. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my proof and e-arcs of this book. 4*