The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate

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Latin instructor Jerome Washington is a man out of place. The lone African-American teacher at the Chelsea School, an elite all-boys boarding school in Connecticut, he has spent nearly two decades trying not to appear too "racial." So he is unnerved when Rashid Bryson, a promising black inner-city student who is new to the school, seeks Washington as a potential ally against Chelsea's citadel of white privilege. Preferring not to align himself with Bryson, Washington rejects the boy's friendship. Surprised and dismayed by Washington's response, Bryson turns instead to Jana Hansen, a middle-aged white divorcée who is also new to the school -- and who has her own reasons for becoming involved in the lives of both Bryson and Washington.

Southgate makes her debut as a writer to watch in this compelling, provocative tale of how race and class ensnare Hansen, Washington, and Bryson as they journey toward an inevitable and ultimately tragic confrontation.

About Martha Southgate

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Martha Southgate is a graduate of Smith College, with an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. She has had fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She was books editor at Essence and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Premiere, Entertainment Weekly, and Rosie, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is at work on her next novel. You can visit her Web site at
Published May 8, 2010 by Scribner. 228 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction

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While the two teachers disagree about how best to help Rashid, the boy, finally talks about his brother’s death at an assembly, but the scars all three bear, especially Jerome, provoke further painful outcomes.

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Publishers Weekly

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Washington cites the youth's lack of discipline as the reason for his unwillingness, but when Bryson calls out Washington after receiving a blatantly unfair grade in Latin class, their meeting strikes a chord from Washington's own troubled past that reveals the real source of his antipathy.

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