Room 301 at Fort Greene Academy High School in New York City is a turbulent place. Annette Kalin, an inexperienced ninth grade teacher, is in charge of leading a group of students who would rather be elsewhere. As she struggles to control the class and implement her idealistic vision, one student makes it his mission to make her life miserable.
Leon Simpson, a gangster wannabe, challenges every attempt that Ms. Kalin makes to maintain order in the classroom. Meanwhile, Kenesha, a student with a fiercely independent spirit, is determined not to let him impose his perverse will on any of his fellow students. Unfortunately, her success in restraining Leon’s destructive impulses only increases his hatred for Ms. Kalin. While she strives to educate her students, nearly every effort she makes is dismissed by her nemesis. As the semester comes to a close, Leon embarks on a vengeful quest amid a classic battle of the wills that culminates in an unthinkable tragedy.
In this poignant novel that provides an eye-opening look into a New York City high school classroom, an idealistic teacher is pitted against a rebellious student in a life-changing struggle for control.