Honorable Mention, Anthology, 2016 Readers' Favorite Book Awards
Bob Boone returns to Forest High School in his new book. With his distinctive voice, he gives us another glimpse into the characters that people the school landscape. Back to Forest High tells of new beginnings, youthful mistakes, failed marriages, and uncertain retirements. Each story is told with humor and tenderness as the characters make their way through the rhythms of everyday life.
"There was a pile of exams on the floor, but he wasn't going to grade them yet. There was a science fiction novel he was about to start and some old New Yorker issues he needed to finish, but he was too tired to read. He stared blankly at the wall and noticed that Shelly had hung up a photo of George Orwell, her favorite author..." -from "The Replacement"
Lisa Locascio, University of Southern California, Recipient of the 2011 John Steinbeck Award for Fiction: "In a time when the importance of teachers has been unfairly challenged, Bob Boone gives us a collection of simply told, hard-edged tales from the lives of educators and their students. These rich, multifaceted stories ring true with details gleaned over the course of a full life. Reading them, one feels as if they are entering another version of our familiar reality, where secrets thrive in quiet classrooms and a passionate love of the pitfalls and victories of teaching motivates the creation of narrative."
Billy Lombardo, Author, The Man with Two Arms, Recipient of the 2011 Nelson Algren Award for the Short Story: "These aren't your typical teacher stories. In the living and breathing world of brick, glass and glue sticks, we want our teachers to leave their real lives-their darknesses, their longings, their secrets and desires-back at their desks and locked in their lockers in the faculty room. But this is Bob Boone's school. There is no safe place here for the containment of these things. The best Boone's characters can do is take off their jackets at the door, empty the pockets of their pants-their shreds and crumplings, their histories and regret, their hearts and longings-stuff it all in the pockets and sleeves of their jackets, drape their coats over the backs of their chairs, and just like the rest of us, cross their fingers and pray to God that nothing falls out before the bell rings."
John O'Connor, Author, Wordplaygrounds, Teacher at New Trier High School: "Implicit in these tales are basic human questions: what does it mean to be a good teacher or a good person? What, for that matter, is meant by the phrase 'good school'? In this age of standardized tests and the relentless attempt at quantifying students and teachers alike, Bob's stories offer a refreshingly human portrayal of his characters. He never fails to see the comedy in the conflict between the conventional and unconventional, and he portrays his characters with nothing less than a sympathetic eye. In these stories, Bob always looks beyond the Forest to the individual trees."
Larry Starzec, Fiction Editor, Willow Review, Professor of English at College of Lake County: "Bob Boone gives us an insider's view into the world of Forest High. These stories are spare, terse and capture the quirkiness of characters and circumstance utterly consistent with the world of schools-a world where, as Boone well knows, every story implies another. An astute observer, Bob Boone writes with humor, compassion and insight."
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About the Author
Milos Stehlik, Critic for Worldview on WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio: "The stories are wonderful and beautifully written, with insights into the interior of a parallel, minimalist universe of the everyday. What makes these stories ultimately so arresting is how they capture the quiet, unspoken fears, the normalcy of unfinished relationships, and the inner strength it takes to face each day. The quietness of the stories belies their energy and the resilience of the characters which becomes a moving celebration of the human spirit."
Eric Lutz, Newcity Lit: "Bob Boone might be Chicago's most famous teacher. Since the 1960s he's been educating youth of Chicago and its suburbs, as well as those in New York and Germany. In 1991, he founded the terrific Young Chicago Authors program, a forum for creative writing and performance among teens, earning him an invite to the White House by Michelle Obama, and a Chicagoan of the Year nod by Chicago magazine in 2002.
"While continuing to teach, Mr. Boone has also found time to pen...a Winesburg, Ohio-esque cycle of...three-dimensional portraits of teachers and students, their twining fates, bound in solidly constructed, realist narratives-ones that sparkle with the feeling of lived experience."
"...Boone's...characters reveal questionable attitudes in a small amount of space or, more often, withhold uncomfortable truths from themselves and others. These layered, often humorous classroom insights are buoyed by the author's lean, clear writing style. The author will find an eager audience among readers who work in the profession, but these stories are genuinely accessible for any student who has ever wondered what's happening on the other side of the desk."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Jessyca Garcia for Readers' Favorite Back to Forest High by Bob Boone is made up of eleven short stories. All the stories are somehow related to school, whether it takes place in a school, is about a teacher, or about school days long ago. Each story is unique and entertaining. I enjoyed all the stories in Back to Forest High. However, some of the stories made a stronger impression on me than others. The story “Ruben’s Career Move” was one of them. I liked this one because it shows you really never know what someone is thinking. Now I will definitely rethink how I think I see people. The story “Air and Space” reminded me of something my dad always said: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Sadly, this story also reminded me of some of the parents of the kids that attend my daughter’s school. Parents need to remember to lead by example. I have to be honest with the story “Isn’t that Abbie Hoffman Over There?” I have never heard of Abbie Hoffman before so I had to look him up. So in other words, Boone taught me something. Once a teacher, always a teacher. “The Caddy” was by far my favorite story in this book. The ending left me in shock. In fact, I had to reread the story to make sure I did not miss anything. These are just a few of the stories in Back to Forest High. The others that I did not mention are also worth reading. Overall, I really liked the stories. It is nice to see things from a teacher’s perspective once in a while.