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The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

February 28, 2022

The unteachables, or SCS8, are a rambunctious group of untalented misfit students who have been abandoned by their previously-assigned teachers. In the beginning of the book, one of the main characters, Kiana Rubini, has to stay with her dad and stepmother, while her mother is away shooting a movie. Her step-mom (who she calls stepmonster) accidentally does not sign her into the school, because her two year old step-brother threw up all over the car. She decides to go in, and is handed a schedule and given directions before she can say that she doesn’t even go to the school. Before she knows it, she is standing before the worst class in the school, the unteachables. 

From here, Gordon Korman’s novel switches between several characters, which include Parker, who can’t read but somehow has a drivers license; Aldo, who has anger management issues; Elain (rhymes with pain); and Barnstorm, the school’s record breaking athlete, who always got out of trouble because of his sports abilities. The other main characters are Mr. Kermit, their grumpy teacher, and Kiana, the one student who doesn’t belong in SCS8. Korman develops the characters and their relationships throughout the book.

Dr Thaddeus, the superintendent, still holds a grudge against Mr. Kermit for a cheating scandal that took place in Mr Kermit’s class twenty seven years ago, and has jumped on every chance to fire him ever since. Because of this, Mr. Kermit has lost his original energy, from when he viewed teaching as a goal, not a job. He is counting down the days until the end of the year, when he can qualify for early retirement. 

Korman expertly flows the plot through a series of events that bond the students and a teacher together, to transform them both in the procss. The plot moves rather slowly as the book unravels, and the students uncover more of the teacher’s backstory. The plot quickens as the book goes on, as Mr. Kermit slowly transforms the class, and the class slowly transforms him, bringing back his positive teaching mindset. The climax of the book is when the students decide to fix and rebuild Mr. Kermit’s old car, because it’s falling apart. In a funny detail it’s called the “coco nerd” instead of Concord, because Parker thought that that’s what it said. They make it their goal to try to win the science fair with the rebuilt car, and win the extra ten points on their grade. If the students’ grades aren’t high enough then Dr. Thaddeus will fire Mr Kermit, so the students are determined to get the extra grade.  The Unteachables is an intriguing realistic fiction novel, full of funny characters, and plenty of engaging scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat. I recommend this book to any realistic fiction lover, or someone just looking for a laugh. I rate it an 8/10.


Balzer + Bray, 288 pages

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