What if today’s progress was actually regress? Christina Dalcher’s novel Master Class depicts an America that’s supposedly our ideal. Its department of education evaluates children’s innate academic ability, assigns them a Q score, then places them in a school based on their score, not their neighborhood. Q scores should foster “fitter families”—and the advent of a perfect America. Except Q scores include family histories and subtract points from minority, non-binary, and low-income families. They also subtract points from kids with sub-par GPAs.
Elena Fairchild is married to an influential member of the Board of Education and enjoys the benefits of her husband’s position. She teaches at an elite Silver School (where students are headed for the Ivy Leagues) and is proud of her oldest daughter’s Q score, even if she hopes her younger daughter Freddie isn’t autistic. But when Freddie disappears to a Yellow School in Kansas, Elena discovers a nightmarish scheme to eradicate everyone that doesn’t match the Fitter Family criteria.
While speculative fiction abounds, Dalcher distinguishes Master Class by prefacing it with facts about covert twentieth-century American experiments (think boarding schools for “idiots” and Nazi-esque eugenics). It’s difficult to shut the book without questioning our AP-heavy, GPA-obsessed school system—one that favors students with advantaged families even if it claims otherwise. Dalcher isn’t a history professor for nothing.
|Page Count||336 pages|
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