‘Our Lady Of Peace’ by ZZ Packer

Our Lady Of Peace by ZZ Packer, 2003

The magic trick:

Creating believable dialogue among high school students

“Our Lady Of Peace” tells the story of Lynnea, a young woman who has rather haphazardly become a ninth-grade teacher in Baltimore. The classroom environment is crucial to the story – not so much understanding who the students are as understanding how their behavior affects Lynnea. So, as you might imagine, the creation of that classroom environment hinges on the dialogue. Fortunately, the student dialogue here is utterly believable as being of its time and place.

And that’s quite a trick on Packer’s part.

The selection:

Ebony whipped up from her seat and backhanded her, strands of Foxy Black slapping across Lynnea’s face. Chairs clattered to floor, students stood, screaming like cheerleaders. “Shit! Did you see that! Ms. Davis got banked!”

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