“Synopsis: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is the debut collection of short stories by Z.Z. Packer. Recipient of the Alex Award, the collection of eight stories is brilliantly written. Packer's characters are people we have met, and if we could think of it, we would describe them and their actions just as Packer does. But we are not Packer, whose prose is quick-witted, satirical, and honest. A representative sample, "Our Lady of Peace" is the story of a young, impoverished woman who decides to become a teacher via an alternate certification program for all the wrong reasons. Her urban teaching career ends when she intentionally tries to scare two high-school age, defiant pedestrians and unintentionally runs them over. Leaving the scene, she realizes she is also leaving her teaching career behind and for the students in her Baltimore high school that is probably a good thing. Having gone through an alternative certification program and then working in a segregated, urban school system this story hit close to home and was the impetus for some serious reflection.
Themes/Curriculum Connections: Short story, African-American, racism, urban lifestyle.
Age/Grade Recommendation: High school and up”