Student Bodies: Susan Israel
In a perfect world where there is harmony, unity and everyone obeys the laws children attend school and everyone is able to learn in an environment that is safe from harm. Imagine a place where the laws and social conditions are perfect. Wouldn’t that be great! But, reality sets in and the real world is not perfect and unfortunately kids go to school, some are bullied, others soar and some land in jail. Circumstances that often hinder their progress can be a simple as family problems, financial stress or even drug abuse. When entering a school the students should feel safe, able to talk with teachers and not worry about being harassed by other students. Wouldn’t that be nice? Meet the staff of Greenwood Middle School and enter at your own risk as Delilah Price has now been hired as a substitute teacher for another substitute teacher that never showed up. Art is her strong suit and wanting to share it with these middle school students won’t be easy as they are tough girls, belligerent and each one is hiding secrets that will turn not only their worlds upside down but Delilah’s too.
Coming there the first day she enters the train station only to witness someone either deliberating falling on the tracks or being pushed. The young student is pushed in front of a moving train and the chain of events that follow will allow readers to know what happens when a school is poorly run, the administration covers for bad teachers and indifference leads to more than one casualty.
As Delilah wanted her first day to be non eventful she winds up being questioned by the police and fortunately for her she is dating the detective in charge of the case. Patrick Quick is the lead detective and we get to know him in many different lights. Although he cares for Delilah in his own way he is all consumed with his police work leaving her to fend for herself and even at times a victim. Entering the school and wanting to find her room she meets Fredericka Shaw and Keaton Jeffries. Jeffries teaches Social Studies and something about him puts on her edge. Fredericka teaches math and they become fast friends. But, before she even steps into the classroom the first day she receives a call from a friend named Sachi claiming she was raped. When questioned and asked about what happened the answers are vague, then not quite honest and the end result leaves the police unsure of whether she is telling the truth or not. As the evidence is collected and they question her more the information she gives just might uncover more than they expect when Delilah takes center stage in the classroom. Meeting the girls and having to decide on an art project is not as easy as she thought. Modeling comes more natural and the owner of the agency gives her an amazing idea for a project. Instructing the girls to create selfie pictures and around them how they perceive themselves and on another board how they think others perceive them is a great idea. This assignment proves interesting as she looks at the pictures, tries to understand the girls and realizes that many of them are more than just troubled and afraid.
Every step of the way someone is watching her and as she tries to help a young girl named Violet the girl rejects her aid and eventually disappears. Another named Julissa is crying out for help but will not concede that she is afraid. When another body is found, someone shoots up the outside of the school and people get hurt why does the Principal want to cover it up? When Delilah makes Quick aware of what is going on he seems skeptical at first until she is attacked and mugged but by whom and why? Each time she tries to tell the Principal that someone on her staff might be abusing young girls she blames it on the student and will not follow up. Each time some goes missing she claims it’s because they have other problems, boyfriends or just absent. She does not take it seriously no matter what Delilah or the police bring to her attention.
Keaton Jeffries seems to be wherever she and Fredericka are giving both of them the creeps. But, Fredericka has a secret and when she explains why she dislikes the police, does not think much of their help; Delilah begins to understand and hopes they can be good friends anyway. Each one watching the back of the other this friendship just might safe them both.
Julissa’s boards are quite telling and the pictures bring to light why she is afraid. With her family there illegally she does not want ICE to find out where they are or deport them.
As an educator you are required to report abuse, sexual abuse or anything that you think puts a student in danger. As Delilah might be new to the position her instincts were perfect and the fact that the Principal did not follow through with her information would make her liable as well if something happened to any one of the students and it did. There are many students within this novel that present different personality problems. Violet seems bent on destroying herself and aligns herself with all of the wrong young men. Julissa seems angry, fearful yet she trusts Delilah and when she thinks something happened to her aunt she calls Delilah for aid. Getting arrested was part of her plan to keep safe and one of the staff members just might be guilty of more than just teaching or intimidating the girls.
Delilah is smart and yet she gets blindsided several times when she investigates what happened to Violet and then takes an interest in Julissa. Someone close to everyone is watching and even closer is connected to this person in a way that no one except one person knows. Lies, deceits, murders, life threatening situations and a teacher who actually does belong in the classroom because she cares. As Fredericka and Delilah’s friendship grows and Quick seems to be more involved in his cases leaving Delilah vulnerable at times we begin to wonder if this relationship is going to pan out or if she should move on.
When the final truths come out and the reasons why things are being covered up in Greenwood Middle School comes out will the Principal be doing time elsewhere? Why is she allowing someone on staff that is threatening the girls and taking a blind eye? A student’s drawing that will take more than just her breath away as the graphics depicted would let anyone know that this student is in need of help. One student that leads Delilah in the wrong direction hoping that someone will take care of her and silence her. Another hoping she will find the answers to help her gain her freedom and allow her parents to remain in the country. Fear, distrust, bullying, jealousies and hate are just some of what the students in this school encounter plus a principal who could care less about the Student Bodies.
When Delilah faces a killer and she and Fredericka learn some more harsh realities will Quick and his team get there in time? An ending that will make anyone who sends a child to middle school think twice about not investigating the staff beforehand. Parents need to be more vigilant and teachers need to report when something about a student looks more than off. Greenwood Middle School might be a fictitious school created by Susan Israel but if you listen to the news and read the newspapers what she has brilliantly written about just might ring more than true.
Delilah makes a life changing decision at the end. Will she remain as an educator or will her talent in art take her somewhere else? Only author Susan Israel knows and she is not giving it away until we read the next Delilah Price mystery.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine
SPOTLIGHT: STUDENT BODIES:
Delilah Price is still dealing with the consequences of her recent abduction, but she needs to keep her life on track. In order to survive as an artist in New York City, she has started working as a substitute teacher, which leaves her navigating between two worlds that are foreign to her – students and educators.
Detective Patrick Quick has taken up a big place in Delilah’s life. That is, when he isn’t consumed by a case. And right now the case that is taking Quick away from Delilah involves a serial rapist and is striking very close to home.
On her way to her first day of work, Delilah witnesses a young girl falling in front of a subway train – or was she pushed? The victim turns out to have been a student at the middle school where Delilah has been assigned to teach and the teacher she is subbing for is a missing person herself. As Delilah gets to know her students and befriends a teacher on staff, she realizes that many have been hiding dark secrets that suggest abuse and worse. And when yet another girl who has hinted strongly that she was abused is a no show to class, Delilah stops counting on police help and follows leads on her own. Putting a dangerous predator on her trail.
The dramatic follow-up to Susan Israel’s debut suspense novel, Over My Live Body, Student Bodies is a novel rippling with tension and twists.
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Number of Pages: 230
Series: Connected to Over My Live Body by Susan Israel
Susan Israel lives in Connecticut with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind. Her first novel, OVER MY LIVE BODY, was published by The Story Plant in 2014. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review and Vignette, and she has written for magazines, websites and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls Life, Ladies Home Journal and The Washington Post. She’s currently at work on the third book in the Delilah Price series.
Don’t Forget the Giveaway!!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Israel and The Story Plant. There will be 3 US winners. There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. Each winner will receive one copy of Student Bodies by Susan Israel. US Residents may have their choice of eBook or Physical and worldwide winners will receive an eBook copy. The giveaway begins on June 1st and runs through June 30th, 2016.
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