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Publisher's Summary

Bel Kaufman's Up the Down Staircase is one of the best-loved novels of our time. It has been translated into sixteen languages, made into a prizewinning motion picture, and staged as a play at high schools all over the United States; its very title has become part of the American idiom.

Never before has a novel so compellingly laid bare the inner workings of a metropolitan high school. Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose clash with school bureaucracy is a timeless lesson for students, teachers, parents – anyone concerned about public education. Bel Kaufman lets her characters speak for themselves through memos, letters, directives from the principal, comments by students, notes between teachers, and papers from desk drawers and wastebaskets, evoking a vivid picture of teachers fighting the good fight against all that stands in the way of good teaching.

©1964 Bel Kaufman (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Up the Down Staircase

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing how much and how little some things change

So many things rang true 30+ years later! I really enjoyed from start to finish.

4 people found this helpful

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60 years old and every word is still true.

Barbara Rosenblat is an absolute gem. By the end of the book (as the "Sug Box" pseudonyms are dropped) I was naming every kid from her characterizations alone. Nothing offensive, no caricatures, and quite honestly every one of the "SS" (special slow) English class was performed in such a way to capture the artless honesty, the goofiness, the cries for help and sincere love that high school students do so well and so rawly.

The writing is phenomenal too. I went into this book completely unknowing and had to finish it in a single day. I laughed, I cried, my heart ached and I sometimes cringed because I kept forgetting this was the 60s -- any numbers quoted have only gotten worse.

Yet these conversations, conflicts, circulars and camaraderie existed in my own high school years 30 years later, and in my nephew's today. It's heartbreaking and wonderful, discouraging and inspiring, often all at the same time.

A quick note: There is a 45min forward to the book that, while I think is an excellent addition as it's an inside retrospective look at this book's journey through the decades, I believe it would be better experienced after the book itself and not before. A lot of it only made sense afterwards.

It's a good reminder to remember the people who gave so much of themselves to us, because by no means was it all, and in no way was it ever easy. A thank-you to teachers everywhere, undervalued and overburdened and buying school supplies with their own all-but-empty pockets. You're loved so much!

This book makes me want to reach out to my high school teachers, 20+ years later, and has given me a lot of food for thought when it comes to things I took for granted that really came from their hearts and souls.

I would like to read the hard copy of this to see the formatting that was so revolutionary, but I had absolutely no problems following threads be they notebook-passing conversations or bulletins posted.

I'll send this on to many, many members of my family (seems education is in our blood) but I'll be surprised if they haven't already enjoyed it in one form or another!

1 person found this helpful

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Rare

It is a rarity to find a gem like this. I do, for once, highly suggest to read a standard copy over audio OR to read while listening to the audio. As someone who owned a paperback copy I can earnestly say that the format is half the fun and a bit lost in audio translation. The reader did as well as she could, but it’s much more engaging to see the kids drawings and notices from the office.
Every teacher should read this book. It ages like fine wine.

1 person found this helpful

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Always relevant

I first read this book when I was 15, quite by accident. I have since read it 5 time through the years, the last time about 10 years. The words written on paper, and this most excellent reading of the book are even more important and revealing now that I am in my senior years! And this is probably not the last time I will listen to this audio version.

1 person found this helpful

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Barbara Rosenblat makes it marvelous

l read this book probably 40 years ago and it was good, great now with Barbara's voices.

1 person found this helpful

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better as a read

doesn't go well as an audio book, good, just misses the mark when reading memos and student work

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I expected so much, and such a disappointment

Famous book, famous author, and such a boring story, boring performance. Could not be worse. Such an interesting topic, schoolchildren and teachers, could've been such a gem, but alas.

1 person found this helpful

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Grab a tissue

Teachers and students will cry for joy and pathos. Timeless and profoundly moving. Vivid depictions of real characters in education.

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Very good book

It took a minute to get used to the writing style. Then loved it.

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Epistolary

Somehow "epistolary" novels have become a genre when they're really just a cop-out by the author, not knowing how to breathe life into characters and situations, just presenting the reader with ghosts of same. It's left to the reader to sift through a wastebasket of memos, articles, letters, etc. to reveal the underlying story for themselves. This format is bad in print but it's even worse in audio where the narrator is forced to identify each document. At least you can skip over that stuff as you're reading. I found this book completely stultifying with the endless parade of documents being read and I bailed after two hours. I may try and watch the movie because movies don't have the option to fall back on epistolary style. They have to bring the action to life.