The rich and complex emotional lives within a classroom of unsupervised students boil toward eruption the day an exceptional teacher is absent. When the designated substitute for Mr. Fabiano's sixth-grade class calls in sick, her message is overlooked in the chaotic office, and the children find themselves without a teacher. Rather than report it, and led by Mr. Fab's lesson plans, they run the class themselves. But powerful emotions are brewing under an otherwise ordinary day's surface: Tommy, a classmate who was often teased for his slowness, has been dead for exactly six months and the class's guilt over their treatment of him hasn't been addressed; Rachel, who hasn't spoken since Tommy died, is about to break her silence; and Bastian, often a bully, is making life-changing decisions on what has become his last day in school. Although Mr. Fabiano only appears at the end, his presence is felt on every page; Fletcher (Twilight Comes Twice, 1997, etc.) creates a testament to effective teaching in his realistic portrait of Mr. Fabiano as both caring and intelligent. A novel that is funny, real, and often moving.