Book Review: Master Class

MASTER CLASS | Christina Dalcher
04.21.2020 | Berkley
Rating: 5/5 stars


The potential of your child is no longer based solely on how they are able to perform in school. A new standardized measure, referred to as the Q score, has become the ruling standard across schools and society. Children are regularly tested and rated, not only based on their performance, but also their parent’s successes. The higher the score, the brighter the future. These scores determine which tier of school the children will attend and ultimately their future careers. In a world where education costs are exorbitant, these measures are the way to cut costs and have teachers focus on those with higher potential. 

Elena Fairchild teaches at one of the highest tiered silver schools where her two daughters attend. Her youngest daughter has just bombed her monthly Q test and she is being forced to leave her top school to attend a bottom tier federal institution located several hundred miles away. Elena has been teaching for years and thought she understood the tiered system, but now that her own family is impacted, she has started to recognize the flaws and has changed her perspective. She wants her daughter back and is willing to do the unthinkable to make that happen.


MASTER CLASS is a dystopian story focusing around the important topic of education. Dalcher has created a society in which families and children are rated and their scores are linked with each other. In order for children to succeed in life they need successful parents in addition to having bright minds. Children who may have any type of difficulty learning are immediately shunned from the top tier schools because their Q scores are too low. Those in the top tier schools, however, are not safe. They are constantly evaluated and rated. Their position in life and school is never guaranteed.

Elena Fairchild is the main character for MASTER CLASS and it is through her eyes that the reader learns the ins and outs of this dystopian world. Elena is lucky enough to be a teacher at a top tier school, have a husband highly ranked in the Department of Education, and be the mother to two highly rated daughters. Her youngest doesn’t always fit the role of high scorer the way her other daughter does and it is Freddie who ultimately scores so low that she is deemed no longer qualified for anything but a federal institution. Through Elena’s eyes we see the turmoil associated with being a parent in this situation, as well as the impact across the family. I loved the honesty and the emotions the reader was able to feel through the character of Elena. Dalcher wisely chose to give the reader a direct experience to this system of life over being an outside observer, which I think is one of the things that made me love this story so much.


The element of this book that really sold the story as a favorite for this month was the fact that Dalcher based all of this in historical events that actually happened. It’s easy to think when reading a dystopian book that the contents of the story would never happen to us, but Dalcher proves that society can easily fall to the extremes with the basis of MASTER CLASS. I genuinely appreciate Dalcher exposing me to a part of history I wasn’t completely familiar with and sending me straight down a Google rabbit hole once I had finished her book! I’ve already bought a copy of VOX and can’t wait to read more from Christina Dalcher in the future!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

A huge thank you to Berkley for my gifted copy of this book!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.


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