Sunday, September 6, 2015

Novella Review: Michael Payne

Title: Michael Payne (A Squirrel Hill High Novel)
Series: Squirrel Hill High
Author: J.M. Varner
Self-Published by J.M. Varner
Source: E-Copy from Author (beta read)
Amazon Kindle Purchase
Delve into the life of Michael Payne and live along with him the events he experienced that lead up to the story told in "Mister Teacher Person (A Squirrel Hill High Novel)".

"Michael Payne" is the short story prequel to "Mister Teacher Person (A Squirrel Hill High Novel)". It can be read and appreciated either before or after reading "Mister Teacher Person," as it adds an additional layer of depth to the story of "Mister Teacher Person" character Michael Payne, a teacher at Squirrel Hill High.

My Review

If you've read and enjoyed Mr. Varner's Mister Teacher Person, you'll definitely enjoy reading this short story about many of the same characters from Squirrel Hill High. This short story, narrated in third-person omniscience, is about Michael Payne and how he felt during the events prior to what happened in the novel Mister Teacher Person. Readers will see Michael (Mr. Payne) struggle with what a few students think as fun, events going on near his parents, and what ultimately leads to his disappearance.

As far as reading order, I would definitely read this novella after reading Mister Teacher Person because it gives away a few key pieces of the story that were fun discovering in Mister Teacher Person. There's no harm in reading it before reading Mister Teacher Person, but it will take away a lot of the mystery of the second book in Mr. Varner's Squirrel Hill High series.

I really enjoyed this short story both times that I read it (beta read and re-read). Seeing Michael in this story gave Mister Teacher Person new life because it adds another dimension that was not explored in Mister Teacher Person. I also really enjoyed the balance of events in this book. Readers will see Michael in school - the classroom, with co-workers, and in the teacher's lounge - but they will also see him in a church environment where he confesses his most inner thoughts to the priest.

It's a great read, especially for younger teens because it deals with bullying and cyber issues - many issues that today's teens are familiar with throughout most of middle and high school. I would recommend this to middle school students, and I would tell any parent of a middle school or high school student to buy these books for their teenagers so that they can learn about the costly mistakes of cyber-bullying.

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