This one is a slow burner, and it gets better and better as you work your way through the storyline. I always enjoy a good, solid psychological thriller, and The Drama Teacher fits well into that category. I also always enjoy a well-flawed character that, despite their shortcomings, inspires sympathy, and the main character in this book does exactly that.
Gracie Mueller seems to be living the life of a pretty normal middle class mother of two, married to a realtor and living in New York State. But nothing is as it seems with Gracie, even her name, as she is mega con artist, something that she learnt from an early age from her father. Gracie’s life is a string of name changes, different accents, and secrets, and the more she runs from her fuzzy memories the more they come back to haunt her.
Technically Gracie isn’t someone you want to associate yourself with: she uses people constantly, steals, cons, and runs away without regard for the mess that she leaves behind. But all is not what it seems, and as Gracie’s life unravels, so does the truth. You honestly feel like after every page turn you will be confronted with a twist, reading the phrases with baited breath until it eventually happens. But when it does it usually isn’t what you expected to see happen. There are areas that get a little confusing just because you want to race through to figure everything out, but it’s best not to. I had to force myself to be patient a few times because The Drama Teacher is best read that way.
You can’t help actually liking Gracie, just because she’s super smart, hilariously sarcastic, can read people from the get-go, and also has a lot of trauma that she hides deep inside. As much as you want to dislike her, it’s really hard to.
There was one area that struck me as a bit strange was some of the references to social media, as the novel starts in 2010, but the references to hashtags and things like AirBNB seemed a little out of place, as if the author had forgotten that those things weren’t really household references at that time (especially the hashtags as they are very 2016/2017). They worked well with the narrative but just seemed a little awkward timewise. But I love how Koren Zailcka writes, and reading The Drama Teacher reminded me why I loved her first book, Smashed, so much. There are so many references that I relate to! For example, the housekeeping references could literally have been lifted from my life (I actually think I found some of the same references in Smashed too, feeling like I was reading my own memoir a little!).
I thoroughly enjoyed The Drama Teacher, it’s one of those books that I wanted to figure out but that I also didn’t want to end. I haven’t read Koren Zailcka’s second book yet, so I am adding that to my TBR now.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!