A novel I remember reading that was different from any other novel was Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan. As a teenager, reading about a novel like that seemed wrong somehow and yet the teacher is the one telling you to read it! Find out how badly the plan to kidnapping your teacher goes for these students!
Killing Mr. Griffin Summary
Brian Griffin is a high school teacher who does not play around. He is demanding of his students and treats them as adults instead of as teenagers. When Mark Kinney, a student in his class, is caught plagerizing, Mr. Griffin makes him beg to be allowed back in class. But even after the begging, Mr. Griffin has a worse punishment for him and some of his classmates.
Mark along with fellow students David Ruggles and Jeff Garrett have to repeat the class next semester. And Susan McConell, who is usually a straight A student, is getting B’s in class. Mark suggests to the group that they should kidnap Mr. Griffin and teach him a lesson for how he has treated them.
But like all plans created by teenagers, it doesn’t go exactly as planned. Mr. Griffin ends up dying while in captivity and the police have questions. Susan was the last person to have spoken to Mr. Griffin before he disappeared. As the police get more leads, Mark and the group get desperate and will go to any lengths to avoid being caught; even kill again.
Before I even get into the commentary, I have to point out how dumb the United States was back in the day. In 1959, Duncan’s novel Debutante Hill was initially rejected for a literary price because one of the adolescent characters was drinking a beer. You can’t make these things up.
Anyway, my first thought was Susan really got caught up in all this because she didn’t get her usual A’s. Like, Mark and the other two classmates have something to be mad about but she threw all of her hard work down the drain over a few B’s.
Besides Susan, everyone else acts in character. Mark is a mess and his ego would have led down that pass eventually. Most people can remember a teacher they hated like Mr. Griffin but I doubt we would be as bitter as Mark was.
Killing Mr. Griffin went on to be Duncan’s most popular novel and deservedly so. She wrote a lot in her life and put the time in. In a stroke of luck, she ended up being hired to be a journalism professor. Her friend was in the department of journalism in the school and figured Duncan was qualified because of all her magazine writing.
I have gone through my Lois Duncan reading phase and I have to say, a lot of her books deal with the same genre and teenage protagonists. And there is nothing wrong with that. But it isn’t really my cup of tea. One or two here and then I’ll want another book. This novel however is one that I enjoyed and will revisit again down the line.