A review: Teacher’s Dead by Benjamin Zepheniah

The story opens with a cleverly descriptive chapter in the third person. A teacher, Mr. Joseph, is stabbed to death. The book then continues in the first person with Jackson, a pupil and witness to the murder, embarking on his personal form of therapy. He knows who did what but he wants to know why.
He finds general condemnation of the culprits, Lionel and Ramzi, but Jackson is seeking an explanation for their action. When he meets Mrs. Joseph we see an awkward teenager trying to understand adult concepts of searching for the right thing to say to a bereaved woman. Yet he persists and in so doing discovers that she wants the same kind of answers as he does. Thus, their friendship begins.
Between them their investigations bring to light the terrible problems both murderers suffered from but it is some time after these revelations that Jackson learns the true reason they gave their guilty pleas in court.
As a retired teacher, I was drawn to the notion of using this book in school. Maybe it already is on the curriculum. It could be helpful for teenagers both in the facts presented and in opening discussion on subjects such as bullying, inherited personality disorders, weakness and subjection, courage and much more no doubt. My only problem being that there are patches of dialogue that are too childish for the teens that are speaking. It would be a shame for those most in need of gaining comprehension to be left laughing, however inanely, at characters that are supposed to represent them.
Having said that, this book is a good read to be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Plus, there’s an excellent twist at the end.