For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing (2021) Review

There’s no excellence without sacrifice

Why I picked up the book:

Teddy Crutcher is Belmont Academy’s teacher of the year. His wife couldn’t be prouder, or so he says, as no one has seen or heard from her in a while. 

Focused and driven to keep the school’s reputation by pushing the students to achieve excellence, he is dismissive of the student who seems to take a particular interest in his personal life and couldn’t care less that the death of another student’s parent looks a lot like murder. 

Teddy wants nothing more than to be left alone to do his thing. No matter the cost.

The book through my criteria lens:

 “Entitlement has a particular stench. Pungent, bitter. Almost brutal.”

From that first sentence, my attention was grabbed; Teddy starts as a compelling character with whom you can’t help but agree. Even though the way he reacts might be different from yours. One thing is certain; his balls are huge! And his moral compass is one of the most devious, dubious, and quite frankly, a literary goldmine. Actually, all the adults were multidimensional, unique, fresh, and hilariously self-centered. Had I met ANY of them in real life, they would be people I avoid, but they are pure adamantium in a book.

Downing’s narrative is addictive; I couldn’t get enough of the subtle sarcasm, satire, and dark humour. Also, the mystery was masterfully plotted and crafted, the twists made sense, and the clues were all within the text – all things that I love in a thriller. I know that navigating the fine line between comedy and tension while still building an atmosphere of suspense is hard, but oh, boy, did Downing deliver the perfect balance?

My personal feelings:

Do you know that moment you clear your calendar for the next 24hs after reading a book’s first paragraph? That’s what I did when I started For Your Own Good. I don’t usually quote books, but that opener was so genius, intriguing, and promising! I swear to you that it set the tone for the whole narrative, and it never let down.

This is the first book in a long time that I read in a single sitting, not in a day, in a freaking sitting. The pages kept flipping, and I could not put it down; dinner wasn’t cooked that day, and I was out of commission for the whole afternoon and early evening. The short chapters and batshit crazy adults helped me be immersed in the book and enjoy my experience. Reading For Your Own Good was, to me, like eating a bag of chips – You open the bag and keep telling yourself “just one more,” and before you know it, you ate the whole thing and had zero regrets. Utterly satisfying. 

In my humble opinion, Keurig should market the “Teddy roast” and offer Downing a deal. The mention of coffee is so clever and subliminal that I kept craving coffee as I read it! Word of advice, though, do yourself a favour and have a cup ready before you start reading to avoid having to put the book down. You WILL crave a cuppa!

For Your Own Good is the first book I have read that mentions our world’s current pandemic. It made me wonder what the future generations will think when reading this book, and it was so interesting to see how different the restrictions were from where I live. That being said, Downing’s mention of Corona was used for context, but in no way did it take away from the narrative. I appreciated that choice as I enjoy books as an escape.

Now what made me really happy was to hear that For Your Own Good has been optioned for HBO Max by Greg Berlanti and Robert Downey Jr. If Robert plays Teddy, I will literally die! I hope they do make this book into a series, mini series or movie! It will be so good!

Overall, I am so impressed and happy with my reading experience, I will read Downing’s backlist really soon, and she has become an auto-buy author for me!

Enjoyability     10

Characters       10

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot                  10

Execution        10

My total rating: 5

I mention this book in this video:


Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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