Sahara Special is a keeper.
I don't know what took me so long to read this, as I loved Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year, by the same author. While Sahara Special is fiction, it would be very easy to read it as a student's point of view of Esme Raji Codell as a teacher. I (happily) recognized many of Miss Pointy's quirks from Ms. Codell's teaching days.
Sahara Jones has been pegged by her school as "special", and not in the good way. Dealing with her parents' divorce, she has withdrawn into herself, been held back a year, and struggled to find her place in the classroom. Sahara also has a rich inner life, full of literary ambitions and charm. In her words, "...let me tell you, working in the hallway with the teacher is like being the street person of a school. People pass you by, and they act like they don't see you, but three steps away they've got a whole story in their heads about why you're out there instead of in the nice cozy classroom where you belong." The novel is full of gems like this which show true insight into children as people with the same feelings as adults.
I love all the characters in the book, but as a teacher, my favorite is Miss Pointy. She is eccentric and wise, but not perfect. There is a spiky quality to her and she makes teaching disciplines that could be questionable to the less imaginative. Still, I wish that all children could have a Miss Pointy every year, a teacher that sees them as the best versions of themselves. I'm going to try to incorporate more Miss Pointy into my teaching life, starting by recommending Sahara Special to everyone who will listen.