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Dick Hammer is a brand new teacher who has a classroom full of the students that the other fifth grade teachers don't want to deal with. Most of them have problems at home, and become problem children in the classroom. A particular little girl, Danilee, stands out to Dick, and she too has problems with her home life.
I found his interest in little girls, and the subtle hints that the author wrote, to sound a little too much like a pedophile. He even wonders what it might be like to teach at an all girls school. He finds himself disappointed when he cannot get a hug goodbye, or when Danilee has to leave at the end of the school day.
At one point he even says that he was drawn to her, like a twig to an eddy. Another quote that seemed to lead to pedophile was "It was the first time he had touched her body. The connection moved through his fingertips and palms, and radiated into his arms and chest.
By page 75 I was just waiting for Dick to slip up and do some horrible act to this young innocent soul. Mr. Hammer is constantly thinking about how it might look if he was alone with Danilee, and purposely puts himself in a public area where others can see that he is up to no good. This sounds like a guilty conscience to me.
Danilee is going through rough times in at home, Dick seems to think he can solve all this little girls problems and be the hero to the story. In reality, a middle aged man cannot try to assist a fifth grader in her personal life without being labeled as a pedophile. His moody, irritable, and condescending wife who is clinically depressed is the first one to label Dick as a pedophile when Dick purposes Danilee come live with them for a short period.
In the end, things work out for Dick, just not at Cherry Blossom School. He starts his life fresh and no one presses charges against him. He seems to think he was doing the best thing for the girl, but don't some other pedophiles feel the same way? I think his actions really gave the impression that he had some sort of sick thoughts about young girls.
I wish Richard Diedrichs had closed up the book a little better, by answering all the questions about Dick that I was dying to learn by the end of the book. I would rate this book a 4/5 because overall it was a book that I couldn't put down and enjoyed reading.
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