When teenager Bobby Blume arrives home late one night to discover his parents’ blood-splattered bodies, police brand the midsummer tragedy a murder-suicide. But despite the couple’s long history of domestic abuse, one police detective isn’t convinced, suspecting the boy himself may be the real killer. Unanswered questions about the double slayings linger into the fall when the enigmatic young teen transfers to Halcyon High School where he’s immediately targeted by a gang of relentless bullies. Not long after, the school is shaken to its core when a posting on the internet threatens Halcyon with a Columbine-style bloodbath and the bullied Blume becomes a prime suspect. But Bobby is also a gifted athlete, finding solace in long distance running and an unlikely ally in high school teacher Mitchell Grey, a thirteen year veteran of the classroom trenches. Grey, long frustrated by the school’s inept administrative bureaucracy, the onslaught of immigrant students, overcrowded classrooms, endless standardized testing, an escalating floodtide of learning disabled students, and the crippling effects of an overbearing ADHD industry, is himself a conflicted man in the midst of his own career and personal crises. Threats of violence and bloodshed still hang in the air at Homecoming and a climactic cross-country meet. If the hapless Bobby can somehow outrace the storied Cruiser Kasewort, the state’s premiere distance runner, he could win a college scholarship and, perhaps, the heart of fickle dream girl Becky Matthews. In the end it’s left to Grey, with help from wisecracking math teacher Stan Cassidy, jovial track Coach Tyrone Tonny, and starry-eyed young guidance counselor Katy O’Conner, to uncover the truth about the troubled teen and, in an action-packed finale, come to terms with the broken pieces of his own life in An Educated Guess.
As a classroom teacher and astute observer of education for 35 years, award-winning columnist Tom Tatum has grown intimately familiar with the challenges facing the modern American high school. With his extensive background in both journalism and education, Tatum crafts a compelling novel that explores the real problems plaguing public education today.