Rewrite Your Life in “Language Arts”
Stephanie Kallos’ novel Language Arts revolves around a teacher whose life is falling apart and who has to learn how to pick up the broken pieces in order to find healing.
The star of the story is Charles Marlow, a high-school English teacher who is enamored with the subject of language arts (hence the title). Despite his scholarly skills, he is frustrated because his daughter just left for college, his wife left him, and he finds it difficult to connect with his son, who has autism. However, with the help of an Italian-speaking nun and a clever art student, Charles may finally learn how to mend the broken pieces of his life and find peace.
Kallos has a compelling cast of characters that you can’t help but feel sorry for in their vulnerable fragility. There is also an interesting juxtaposition with how Charles struggles to connect with his son Cody and his fascination with a childhood classmate who wore all white and likely shared Cody’s diagnosis.
Language Arts is ultimately a story about the difficulty of communicating without words. From how Charles struggles to connect with his son to his fascination with an old childhood classmate, Charles’ struggles culminate into a beautiful moment that ties art, language arts, and family all together. Although the non-linear format may confuse some readers, Language Arts is a fascinating look into the secrets and pieces that build a life.