REVIEW: TAAS: A Novel of the Standardized Examination by Joe Reese

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction, Pages: 201, Reading Level: Easy/ Medium

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“TASS stands for Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. If you’re offended by vulgar language – don’t get this book. If you have some 1950s vision in your head of what your kids are doing every day in the public school system – don’t get this book. If you’re allergic to laughter – don’t get this book. If, on the other hand, you need to laugh until your stomach hurts; and you have no “Leave it to Beaver” illusions about the modern-day public school system; and you are, maybe a bit of cynic about “Standardized Testing” and all things “politically correct,” … oh, you GOT to have it! Joe Reese starts the book with a blanket apology instead of a Prologue or Foreword. You’ll see why when you read it. This thing is a laugh riot – destined to become a cult classic – especially among teachers who have been around the block a few times”

TAAS was funny as promised. I didn’t find all sections funny but overall, it was a quick and enjoyable read. There is a lot of profanity in it and much more that will surely offend. But if you have a thick skin, I think you will enjoy the book.

It begins by making fun of Texas football. It was amusing, but I am not into football, especially high school football, so it will probably be funnier to someone who is. Did I just write that? Please don’t take away my Texas citizenship!

My favorite part was the hate speech and not being able to say so many words that teachers had to attend a weekly meeting to be updated on the new hate speech-

“Hate speech generally consists of obscene words or cruel racial epithets. Occasionally such words have to be talked about, and common usage across the country has decreed that when the need arises, the word itself is to be replaced by a code, consisting of the word “the,” followed by the first letter of the offending word, followed by the word “word.” For example, “the n word,” instead of- well,  you know- the n word.

The good thing about this is that when you use the code, everyone knows immediately what word you mean, but you haven’t actually said it, so no one is offended.

The problem is, so many words are now being considered as forms of hate speech, that the codes are becoming difficult to keep up with. Schools deal with this problem by requiring a teachers’ meeting each week to review current bad words and the letters associated with them.”

Of course, that is just the beginning. There are other quotes I highlighted, but I can’t include them in the review. Suffice it to say that there were some statements that made me glad I didn’t have anything in my mouth when I read them or it would have ended up on the floor or person in front of me.

This book is not for everyone. I understand why teachers would find it offensive, as well as students. Okay, who am I kidding, there are a lot of people who will find this book highly offensive. And I don’t want to insult anyone by saying he or she does not have a sense of humor, but if this is an area where you do not, do not read the book. For anyone else, it’s worth a try. While it might exaggerate, some of these things are so obvious in our society and it is nice to see someone call them out and make us laugh about them. But I did have to take away one star for making fun of Texas A&M. Just kidding. Whoop!

Reviewed by Christina

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