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Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's first novel, Madeleine is Sleeping, was shortlisted for the US National Book Awards in 2004. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Tin House, the Georgia Review, and the Best American Short Stories. She teaches writing at the University of California, San Diego, and lives in Los Angeles with her family.
Ms. Beatrice Hempel, English teacher, is new - new to teaching, new to her school, newly engaged, and newly bereft of her devoted father. Overwhelmed by her newness, she struggles to figure out quite what is expected of her - in life and at work. Is it acceptable to introduce swear words into the English curriculum, enlist students to write their own report cards, or bring up personal experiences while teaching a sex-education class? Or not? Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum finds her characters at their most vulnerable, then explores those precarious moments in sharp, graceful prose. Ms Hempel Chronicles takes the reader on a journey down the rabbit hole to the wonderland of middle school, memory, daydreaming, and the extraordinary business of growing up.