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Sunday, September 26, 2021


The characters are clearly defined and the chapters are short and concise, always leaving an intriguing cliffhanger. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The prestigious Belmont Academy is an upmarket and expensive institution where the wealthy parents expect their youngsters to be groomed to head for the Ivy League or one of the top tier USA West Coast schools like Berkeley, Stanford or UCLA.

They also have no compunction in interfering with schooling methods or the exam tests of their children.

Samantha Downing’s novel For Your Own Good deals with a complicated sequence of events and characters, involving bribery, hatred, revenge, and manipulation.

The main character is Teddy Crutcher who has just won Teacher of the Year at Belmont. While he has the award to display, he is disheartened that he is not recognised on the “hall of fame” of Belmont as he didn’t attend the academy.

One of Teddy’s main challenges is Zach Ward, a snooty, egotistical student who irritates him to the point where he tends to keep Zach’s exam grades lower than deserved. Zach sets out on a plan of revenge, going into Teddy’s background to try to collect information on him.

Teddy has created a fake profile and spends hours on social media with his user name Natasha who is a high school student and an online friend of Zach’s and others. So Teddy knows what’s going on with his students.

Then one day, a former student who was just as impossible as Zach, comes back to Belmont. Teddy had destroyed her chances of further development after writing to all the institutions she applied for, saying she would be a highly unsuitable choice. She, too, sets out on a path of revenge.

Added to the mix, is fellow teacher Frank Maxwell who has his own issues.

At heart, Teddy believes that he is doing the best for his students and fellow teachers. This goes further when he decides to doctor fellow teachers’ coffee with toxins from berries from a plant in this garden. This process he believes will improve issues about them that irritate him.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t know enough about the possible repercussions and so begins a trail of disaster. Death wasn’t the goal. Not for anyone. But it happens.

This is a complicated and involved story – first, there’s one person providing life-altering substances to people’s coffee or tea, then there’s another one doing something very similar and it’s only later you find out who is doing what. And how dangerous these actions can be.

The characters are clearly defined and the chapters are short and concise, always leaving an intriguing cliffhanger.

For Your Own Good is published by Penguin RandomHouse UK. USBN 9780241446898  (Review by Caroline Smart)