cover image Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey

Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16.99 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80097-9

Haddix (Running Out of Time) offers a tough-edged if familiar story of a beleaguered high school girl who confides the difficulties of her life to a journal in an assignment for English class; the title refers to the label the heroine gives every entry so that her teacher, the true-to-her-word Mrs. Dunphrey, will only look at the completed writing and not actually read the sensitive contents. With an abusive and mostly absentee father, a depressed mother, and only a part-time job at Burger Boy to pay for her food and clothes--as well as for her little brother Matthew's--Tish Bonner seems headed for a crisis. At her lowest point, penniless and starving after her mother's abandonment and after she is fired by a manager whose sexual advances she has refused, Tish shoplifts from a grocery store to feed herself and Matthew--and then faces being evicted from her home. Because the journal is the sole outlet for Tish's inner turmoil, the tone here shifts only in terms of varying shades of anger. Meanwhile, Mrs. Dunphrey, a model of teacherly concern, writes brief comments to express her appreciation of Tish's lengthy entries and to ask Tish to let her read some of them. YA readers will be not in the least surprised that Tish finally turns over her entire journal for Mrs. Dunphrey's perusal as a way of getting help, and that Mrs. Dunphrey comes through in the best sensitive-English-teacher tradition. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)