Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey is a YA realistic fiction book told in journal entries about knowing when to ask for help. In 16-year-old Tish's English class, her teacher (Mrs. Dunphrey) requires the kids to keep a journal. She promises to not read anything marked "Do Not Read." Usually this is the type of thing that Tish would not try or do well on, as a straight C student. But with her current home life, she needs somebody to talk to, even if it is venting in a journal. Her father is abusive and her mother still loves him and neglects her children. The situation takes a turn for the worse when her mother runs off to find Tish's father and leaves her to care for her brother with only the small amount of money Tish makes at her part-time job at the Burger Boy.
This is quite a short book, but holds the worth of 1,000+ pages. This book contains subjects of child abuse, neglect, mental illness, and death. It reminds me of a book I read recently, 15 Days Without a Head, which follows a similar plot line. However, this journal is filled with more emotion and was written in a different direction. While I was reading it, I felt like I could hear Tish talking. There are a lot of ramblings and tangents, which I loved. Don't You Dare Read This is written in a way just like the thoughts in one's head, like Tish projected all her thoughts on a page. I would love to be able to write like Haddix and give as much insight as she did.
On top of that, this book is inspirational. It teaches about asking for help and shows that adults and teachers care about their students. It teaches about strength and the difference between right and wrong. Tish was one of the most round characters I have ever met. (A round character is basically the proper terminology of a complex character.) She started writing in the assigned journal feeling embarrassed and having huge trust issues. But as the book progressed she was so desperate that she is driven to write all the details. She goes from a straight C student to failing and having to pay bills and go job hunting. She even considered dropping out of school to provide support. She was so torn about whether or not to ask for help, and she really wanted to care for her little brother. She was battling so many emotions at once, and Tish should not have to had to go through what she did.
I've always wanted to be a teacher, and this book makes me wonder what I would do in the situation of Mrs. Dunphrey. In fact, it would be really amazing if there was a sequel told from the viewpoint of her. (Unfortunately, this book is from 2004, so my wish comes too late.) This is very different from most of the other works by this author. I read a lot of her books when I was younger, including her Shadow Children series, The Missing series, and Double Identity. Those were all sci-fi books.
I absolutely loved this book, and I am glad I bought it! I highly recommend that you read this book!
Title: Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey
Author: Margret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 128 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars