Bynum's dreamy, experimental debut, Madeleine Is Sleeping, earned a 2004 National Book Award nomination. In her second book, her prose tacks traditional but sacrifices none of its lilting charm. Ms. Hempel is a seventh-grade English teacher besotted by her students but ambivalent about her profession; Bynum's portrayal makes this humanist appealingly human. It's a pleasure to be in her class.
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