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A PTSD damaged high school teacher returns to the classroom after a two year absence and finds himself fighting a political war with a duplicitous superintendent.
Philip Reilly has been gone a while. Tormented by the trauma of a school shooting, he returns to the profession five years later to a small New England high school on the other side of the country. He has become a single stepfather, and has developed an obsession with solving the mystery of a missing Roman aqueduct in France. He returns to the physics classroom unsure of himself, feeling lost, but discovers he still has a knack for teaching.
His new school district is fraught with tension; teachers and administrators don't like or trust each other; a superintendent with her own agenda; perpetual budget crises, and low morale. Reilly is confined to a remote area of the school near closed shops and technical education classrooms. The only other teacher in his wing is an English instructor named Daiana. Nicknamed "The Freak" by her colleagues, largely due to her passion for social justice, their status as outsiders helps them bond together.
It doesn't completely inoculate Philip and Daiana from the tension in the building. They are unaware that the proposed solution to the problems of the school district involve millionaires and privatization. But they will discover this soon--and then they will have to decide which side they need to be on, and cope with the consequences of their choices.