A hotel owner in Germany who chases his guests with a Tazer. A drunk official in Nepal who blockades all highway traffic. A former Soviet musician who thinks a sledgehammer is an appropriate way to slaughter a cow. Derek Smith’s memoir has some mishaps and adventures, sure — but that’s not the main draw. It’s Nick. Nick is the book’s Jiminy Crickett, an unfiltered voice to counteract what is always a dangerous scenario: an English teacher addressing an audience. Nick interrupts the rambling anecdotes, redirects the long-winded asides, and calls into question the life lessons Mr. Smith insists that we’re learning all along the way. So laugh at his naivete in college. Be unsurprised by his inexperience. Shake your head when he lectures about the role of education and how he majored in it. Find some intrigue with his immersion into not one but two Peace Corps countries. And find joy or disdain knowing that he’ll retell the story of how he fell in love with his wife. Feel something or nothing — but know that, regardless of the tale, there will be Nick, forever trying to make the stories more tolerable. Because everybody needs someone that calls you out every now and then. Especially teachers.
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Derek Smith has lived and taught throughout the globe: in the Himalayas in Nepal; in a village in Moldova; in the bustling capital of Lebanon. He has chronicled some of these adventures in a memoir aimed for easily distracted teenagers. He is currently a high school teacher on the south side of Chicago and hopes to add to his retirement savings through sales of his book.
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