A high school history teacher convinces a popular jock to run against annoyingly ambitious Tracy Flick in the student elections at Winwood High School. The story is divided into several characters' perspectives, and each chapter alternates between whose perspective is given. The main character, Jim McAllister, is a high school history teacher going through a mid-life crisis. His good friend, another teacher at Winwood High School, is fired for having an affair with Tracy Flick, a driven and ambitious student who is willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. Not wanting to let Tracy win, and annoyed with her cutthroat ambition, he persuades Paul Warren, a likeable jock, to run against her. His sister Tammy, angered over the fact that her former girlfriend has left her, started dating Paul and taken it upon herself to become Paul's campaign manager, runs against them both but runs a campaign that promises to overhaul the student government if elected. Tammy is kicked out of school, much to her seeming delight. In the election, Tracy wins by three votes – but, adamant about not letting her win, Mr. McAllister throws away her votes so that Paul wins. Meanwhile, Mr. McAllister, whose marriage is going through a rough patch, attempts to start an extramarital affair with his friend's wife, only to find out that she has told his wife everything. His sabotage of Tracy's win is eventually found out; Tracy is appointed the office, and Mr. McAllister is fired for his actions. Combined with the break-up of his marriage, he has nowhere else to go. In the end, he starts over again and finds a job at a car dealership.
Best part of story, including ending:
The sensibility is very true to life in the sense that it gets at the crux of some existential problems both for high school students and teachers, but exaggerates them enough that it becomes hilarious as well. The tone of this story is darkly funny, which works well to poke fun at the seriousness with which high school students take seemingly meaningless positions such as student council president. The fact that the adults seem hardly more mature than the students works well to drive home the humor of this story.
Best scene in story:
My favorite character was Tammy Warren, so many of the scenes with her were my favorites. One of her strongest scenes was when she gives her campaign speech, running on the idea that student government is pointless and that her first order of business, if elected, was to dismantle the student government. This shows her rebellious nature and establishes her as a strong character. I also liked a later chapter where she is transferred to an all-girls' Catholic school and talks about how it compares to public high school. While this is primarily just her perspective and not much actually happens, the description is highly accurate and really paints a picture of the difference between Catholic school and public school.
Opinion about the main character:
One of the great things about Mr. McAllister is that he is so relatable, but does completely ridiculous things. However, this works well because we can understand his underlying logic. The description of what each character is thinking in a first-person perspective makes it clear why they do things -- he, for example, explains that his marriage is on the rocks and the difficulties in his marriage, so it is understandable why he would consider an extramarital affair -- but the actions he actually takes based on those thoughts are so absurd (he goes right out and gets a motel room and leaves messages on the woman's answering machine quite blatantly). Therefore, we can laugh at his actions, but really understand what he was trying to get at because the author does a good job of defining his character/thinking process.