Review: What Was She Thinking? (Notes on a Scandal) by Zoe Heller

what was she thinkingThis was a book sale find maybe a few years ago. I know I’ve had it in my possession for a while. I was attracted to the large green apple with a cherry perched on top of it on the book’s cover (because I do totally judge books by their covers – at least at book sales). Plus, the title is kind of intriguing. “What was she thinking?” implies that someone has done something that this other person thinks was bad judgement, stupid, irresponsible, etc.

Turns out, those statements are pretty accurate because what we have here is a story about a 40something, attractive ceramics teacher having a lengthy affair with an 18-year-old student. Sheba, the teacher in question, is married and has two children. Her marriage seems ok but perhaps she’s bored, or just likes male attention. In any event, this student develops a crush on her and then pursues her. She resists for a time, and then gives in.

Told through the viewpoint of felllow teacher Barbara, who is jaded by her own life, we get bits and pieces of Sheba’s story through flashbacks. Then we are brought to the present, where Sheba is living with Barbara, having been kicked out of her own home following the discovery of the affair. Barbara is very opinionated and stubborn, and catty at times. Some of her actions are downright cringe-worthy. She seems to want to rally the reader to her cause, but in doing so, shoots herself in the foot.

An interesting read. It’s a few years old, but if you happen to run across a copy of this, it is worth giving it a try.

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