The Education of Nancy Adams

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Living in her dead parents’ house in 1996, Nancy Adams is about to go to work at the Florida high school from which she graduated twenty years earlier. Her new boss was her teacher back in 1976, a man she adored. She was seventeen then. He was twenty-seven. He is married now, she is a childless  widow. Her own education is about to begin again as she enters an adolescent world of hormones, rumors, and teenage drama; where students are sometimes more mature than their teachers, and where she finally learns the truth about the man she thought she loved. In that discovery process, she must also confront the intellectual ghost of Henry Adams, the dead historian she was forced to read in college, a confrontation which ends with her being his teacher.

“I have perfect vision and low blood pressure, assets that make me a great shot. I can sit on the dock that slopes away from my house and finish a box of shells in an afternoon. I like to shoot things. That scares some men. A woman with a gun. Too bad it never scared the men it should have. My theory is that being educated and being armed ought to reinforce each other. Wrong.”—Nancy Adams

Praise for The Education of Nancy Adams

“A dramatic, psychologically astute story about secondary education–students, teachers, love, and loss–told with honesty and insight by Nancy Adams, a young widow coming to terms with her past and herself. A+”–Daniel Menaker, author of The Treatment and My Mistake: A Memoir

“First of all, I finished Nancy and continued to love it. It really was very hard to put down… I’m no critic, just a reporter who’s done a lot on books and publishing for NPR and an enthusiastic reader of good books. The writing was vital and underlineable without being intrusively writerly…”–Martha Woodroof, WMRA Public Radio, author, Small Blessings (St. Martins Press, 2014)

“Nancy Adams, a young widow at loose ends, decides to ignore Thomas Wolfe and everything else she ever learned as a Southerner and returns home again — setting in motion the train wreck of her older self encountering the young girl she left behind.  In a story that is both funny AND surprising, she moves into her family home and takes her mother’s old teaching position at the high school, and rediscovers a second Southern truth: ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’
But beyond this great setup, Larry Baker’s novel The Education of Nancy Adams gives us the possibilities of redemption, and love, and forgiveness, while presenting us with a whole slew of weirdly funny Southern characters.  A happy read, tinged with wisdom, and highly recommended for any young widows having second thoughts about their life — or anyone else with a taste for personal psychic danger.”–Mike Lankford, author,  Life in Double Time.

“Larry Baker takes us back to school in THE EDUCATION OF NANCY ADAMS, an extraordinary novel about ordinary people and second chances. An open-hearted story of the ways in which we learn how to live, NANCY ADAMS is teacher of the year.”—Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child and The Boy Who Drew Monsters.

“……a novel of ideas as much as a novel of situations. And it’s a worthy companion to the 1918 autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams …. And as in Henry Adam’s nearly century-old book, both Nancy Adams and Baker seem to be caught in the tension between the Virgin and the Dynamo — between the mysticism of a passing world and the advent of a new technological age.”—Jeff Charis-Carlson, Iowa City Press-Citizen.