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The Teacher

Recap, Summary & Spoilers



The Quick Recap and Section-by-Section Summary for The Teacher by Freida McFadden are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The one-paragraph version: Addie is a high school senior who is believed to have had an improper relationship with a former teacher. While that was a misunderstanding, she begins an affair with Nate, the handsome married English teacher. There's an altercation and Nate's wife Eve is injured by Addie, but Nate is the one who then kills Eve. Nate tries to frame Addie, but another student he was sleeping with, Kenzie, comes forward, and Addie and Kenzie go to the police with the truth. Meanwhile, it's revealed that Eve survived and was buried alive, but dug her way out. Eve is actually a former student of Nate's that he seduced. With the help of Jay (who Eve was having an affair with), she lures Nate to the grave, knocks him out and buries him alive.

In Part I, Addie is a high school junior at Caseham High who is rumored to have gotten a teacher, Arthur Tuttle, fired due to them having an improper relationship. At school, she is ostracized and ignored by Hudson, her former best friend. She's also bulled by Kenize, Hudson's popular and pretty new girlfriend. It's revealed that Hudson stopped speaking to Addie after an accident that resulted in them killing Addie's abusive, alcoholic father a year ago (pushed down the stairs in an altercation).

Meanwhile, Eve and Nate are a married couple and both teachers at Caseham. Nate is very handsome, and he constantly rebuffs Eve's attempts to be more affectionate and have more sex. Eve also has a tendency to buy expensive pairs of heels, which Nate disapproves of. Eve, jealous and frustrated, has been having an affair with Jay, a shoe salesman for four months.

Nate loves poetry and takes an interest in Addie after reading one of her poems. Soon Nate and Addie begin an affair, and Addie loses her virginity to Nate. He writes Addie a poem. It's revealed that unlike now, the incident with Mr. Tuttle was actually a misunderstanding. Arthur had been tutoring Addie, and she'd gone to his house for support one night, but she was spotted in the bushes looking in on him and his wife having dinner. The optics of the situation meant that Arthur ended up being fired.

Addie gets increasingly attached to Nate, and Eve eventually sees Nate and Addie kissing. She tells Nate to end it and that she wants a divorce. When Addie goes to try to convince Eve that they're really in love, Addie gets hysterical and hits Eve with a frying pan. Addie calls Nate for help. It turns out Eve is still alive, but Nate kills Eve by choking her to death, fearing what she knows. When Addie asks asks about the red marks on Eva's neck, Nate avoids the question.

In Part II, Nate and Addie dig a grave, but Nate ditches Addie to bury the body alone. Addie ends up calling Hudson to pick her up. The next day, Nate tells the police that his wife has gone missing and hints that Addie could be involved. The police believe him at first, but they hint to Addie that he is trying to pin the disappearance on her.

Kenzie reveals to Addie that she saw Addie with the poem that Nate had given to Addie. Kenzie recognized it because it's the same one he once gave to her. Kenzie started sleeping with Nate when she was 14. The two agree to go to police and tell them the truth.

In Part III, it's revealed that Eve was actually still alive and able to dig her way out since Addie had merely covered her with leaves. Eve has been staying with Jay. Eve and Jay lure Nate back to the grave, knock him out and bury him alive. It's revealed that Eve was also a former student of Nate's that he seduced many years ago when she was 15.

In the Epilogue, people think Nate simply disappeared after facing being labeled a sex offender. And Eve resurfaces, saying she just wanted to get away for a few days. It's revealed that the "Jay" that Eve was seeing was actually Hudson ("Jay" being short for Jankowski, his last name), but that's over now. The book ends with Hudson and Addie holding hands.

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Section-by-Section Summary


Prologue
Part I
Part II
Part III
Epilogue

Prologue

The book opens with an unnamed narrator trying to dig an unmarked grave in the middle of the woods before the sun comes up.

Part I

Chapters 1 – 9

THREE MONTHS EARLIER

Eve Bennett and Nate Bennettare a married couple living an orderly life. Nate is very handsome and fit. They both work at Caseham High School. Eve is a math teacher and Nate is an English teacher, and today is the first day of the school year. Eve resents Nate and hates their life together. They rarely have sex and rarely are affectionate with each other.

At school, Eve catches up with Shelby, her best friend. Shelby is married to Justin, 36, a successful tech genius, and has a three-year-old son, Connor. They talk about Arthur “Art” Tuttle, who had been a beloved math teach at the school and someone Eve had been very fond of. He left in shame and has been unable to find another teaching job. Art is married to Marsha and has two college-aged sons.

At lunch, Eve sits with Shelby while Nate sits with Ed Rice, the P.E. teacher, and Hailey, the pretty new French teacher. Eve wonders about the many nights last year that Nate spent supposedly working late and what he was doing. In class, Jasmine Owens asks Eve for a college recommendation, and Eve agrees. Eve is unhappy to see that Adeline “Addy” Severson is in her class, who she blames for Art no longer being there.


Meanwhile, Addy is a high school junior at Caseham. She is the school pariah due to rumors that something happened between her and Mr. Tuttle, which is believed to be why he was fired. Addy spots Kenzie Montgomery, the most popular junior girl, standing alongside Hudson Jankowski, the school’s new star quarterback. Kenzie tries to hassle Addie as she enters the school, causing Kenzie’s pack of friends to giggle. Addie and Hudson were once best friends, but now he no longer speaks to her. They’d bonded over their fathers being embarrassments to them — Addie’s father being an alcoholic and Hudsons’ having been the school janitor in elementary school.

Ella Curtis offers to sit with Addy during lunch, and gossips about how Mr. Bennett (Nate) is so much more attractive than Mrs. Bennett (Eve). When Ella starts to asks about rumors about Addy and Mr. Tuttle, Addy is adamant that nothing happened and leaves the table, realizing that Ella has no interest in befriending her and merely wants gossip.

Addie’s last period is English, her favorite subject. Her teacher is Mr. Bennett, who many of the girls have crushes on. Addie takes a seat, but Kenzie comes by with her friend Bella to hassle her and demand her seat. Addie gives in and moves elsewhere. Addy loves poetry and sees a book of Poe’s works on Mr. Bennett’s desk. When Mr. Bennett asks the students to share their favorite poem, Addy volunteers the poem “Annabel Lee”, and Mr. Bennett is pleased with her response.

After school, Addy’s mother asks about Hudson and about Mr. Tuttle. Addy knows her own mother doesn’t entirely believe that nothing happened between them.


Nate stays late that night to supervise the school newspaper. Eve goes shopping for a new pair of heels at the mall which she desperately wants, though she knows Nate would not approve of the extravagance. Eve almost decides to shoplift the heels instead, but the sound of a store alarm dissuades her and she leaves without the shoes. Back at home, Eve tries to seduce Nate while he is cooking, but he brushes her off to focus on the task at hand.

Chapters 10 – 17

Two weeks into the school year, Addie is in the lockers after P.E. when Kenzie starts teasing Addie about not shaving her legs. In trig, Addie notices Mrs. Bennett never seems very pleased with her. English is the one period she looks forward to. After getting her graded poem-writing assignment back today, Addie sees a note to “see me after class” from Mr. Bennett. She’s worried, but it turns out Mr. Bennett loved her poem and wants her join the staff of the school’s poetry magazine, Reflections which he supervises.

A few days later, Addie is at lunch when Kenzie starts hassling her again, telling her to move to a different table. Hudson sees this and tells Kenzie to stop, but doesn’t offer to sit with Addie. Addie moves instead, feeling dejected. Later, Addie sees the two of them again, talking intensely. They don’t notice her. Addie sees their backpacks against a nearby wall and impulsively takes Kenzie’s keychain holding her house key from the bag and walks away.

At the poetry magazine meeting, Mr. Bennett asks Mary “Lotus” Pickering to show Addie the ropes. Lotus is unenthused about it, but concedes that Addie’s poetry is good after reading some of it.


At the grocery store, Eve runs into Art Tuttle. They make small talk, but when Eve mentions that Addie is in her class this year, Art gives Eve a severe warning to be careful around Addie, and he tells her that Addie is “troubled”.

After the poetry magazine meeting, Nate returns home and tells Eve about the meeting. Eve thinks about how Nate used to write poetry about her, but not anymore. Eve goes out that night and heads to a nearby shoe store, Simon’s Shoes. She arrives just before closing. When they’re alone, the salesman, Jay embraces her, and they make love. Afterwards, Jay makes excuses to a woman over the phone about why he’s not home yet. Eve and Jay’s affair has been going on for the last four months, and they agree to see each other again next week.

Chapters 18 – 26

A short while later, Mr. Bennett tells Addie about a statewide poetry competition. He’s able to submit one poem, and he has chosen her poem, the one she wrote about her father, entitled “He Was There.” He tells Addie that she’s amazing and that she should believe in herself. As they chat, they talk about Eve, who he says believes words are largely utilitarian. He offers her a ride home, but Addie declines. Afterwards, Addie tells Lotus the news, who reacts poorly. She says that Addie is only a beginner and implies that she was only chosen because she gets romantically involved with teachers.

One day, after gym class Kenzie and her friends bully Addie by hiding her clean clothes in the showers, getting them drenched. Addie ends up having to wear her dirty gym clothes the rest of the day, and her wet clothes ruin her math homework. When she gets to English class, Mr. Bennett can tell she’s having a rough day and allows her to go home early. However, instead of going home, she finds herself headed to Kenzie’s house with the key she stole a few weeks ago. Addie contemplates going into Kenzie’s place but she wonders if the mansion has an alarm system and decides against it.

When she gets home, Addie’s mother wants them to go visit her father’s grave, but Addie argues against it, saying that he was an abusive alcoholic who doesn’t deserve it. Addie recalls how she wasn’t even sad when she learned her father had fell down the stairs and died. Her mother agrees to skip the visit, and they decide to do out to dinner instead.


Today is Eve’s birthday, and she puts on a pair of shoes from a secret stash she has. Nate doesn’t know about it since he already thinks she overspends on shoes. She tries to talk Nate into a quickie but he declines. Later, she calls her parents. They never approved of her marrying Nate, and she hates having to admit to herself that they were right about him.

On the way to her birthday dinner, Nate talks about the poetry competition. When they get to the Italian restaurant, Eve wants him to park closer because she’s in heels, but Nate is unsympathetic and mostly seems suspicious of whether she’s purchased yet another pair of shoes. Inside, Nate is distracted by the sight of Addie there having dinner with her mother. When Nate talks about how talented Addie is, Eve says that she’s trouble, reminding him of what happened with Arthur. However, Nate disagrees, calling Arthur a “creep”.

Eve thinks of how Arthur had always been kind to her. Arthur had been tutoring Addie and had offered her a few rides home. However, a neighbor had seen Addie outside the back Arthur’s house one night and called the police. While there was no wrongdoing on Arthur’s part that anyone could identify, the situation didn’t look good. Arthur said she must’ve gotten too attached to him when he was trying to be nice to her.


Meanwhile, Addie is also distracted by Nate’s presence at the restaurant. She fantasizes about what it would be like if they were having dinner instead of him and his wife. She goes to use the bathroom and runs in Nate in line. He asks her what happened that day, and Addie tells him but she’s reluctant to admit who did it. Nate tells her that as a cathartic assignment to let out her anger and frustration, she should write a revenge letter detailing what she’d do to that person.


After dinner, Nate goes to sleep early while Eve gets a message from Jay saying that he left her birthday present at her door. Eve finds that he’s left a pair of pricey shoes there for her. She hears a noise outside and hopes he might be standing there, but he’s not.

Chapters 27 – 30

Addie goes to her locker one day to see that it’s been vandalized — the lock’s cut open and the locker is filled with shaving cream. Kenzie and her friends tease Addie. Mrs. Bennett shows up and is harsh with Addie, telling her to clean up the mess. Hudson sees the fracas and asks what’s going on. He offers to help her clean it up, but Kenzie starts demanding that he leave with her instead. He refuses, but Addie shoos him away, not wanting to antagonize Kenzie further.

Addie thinks about how she and Hudson aren’t able to be friends anymore ever since he helped her kill her father a year ago. That day, Hudson had been at her house when her father had started yelling. Hudson had stood up to him, and Addie’s father had shoved him. Addie then shoved her father back and he fell. Panicked, they’d left and Addie’s mother discovered the body shortly after.

Ever since then, Hudson had barely been able to look at Addie. Without Hudson, Addie had needed extra help in math. Mr. Tuttle had been willing to help. She thinks about how nothing untoward ever happened between then, and she feels guilty that his life got messed up because of her.

After cleaning up her locker, Mr. Bennett sees her and offers her a ride home. Addie is reluctant because of what happened with Mr. Tuttle, but she thinks about biking home in the pouring rain and agrees. On the car ride, they talk about poetry and Addie fantasizes about being on a date with him.

Chapters 31 – 39

Addie continues to struggle in math and cheats off of her neighbor’s exam during her midterms. Kenzie sees it and confronts her after class. She threatens to tell Mrs. Bennett what she saw. While in English class, Addie gets called into Mrs. Bennett’s office later that day and is accused of cheating. Mrs. Bennett plans to discuss the matter with Principle Higgins tomorrow. Addie leaves, determined to get revenge on Kenzie for ratting her out.

That day after school, Nate is surprisingly eager to have sex with Eve. She enthusiastically consents. Afterwards, he asks about what happened with Addie, and Eve tells him she saw her cheating. He encourages her to be lenient with Addie as he affectionately kisses her. She agrees.

Addie is furious with Kenzie, who she believes ratted her out. She goes to Kenzie’s house after school and rings the doorbell to see if anyone is home. When it seems empty, she enters, checking for an alarm system on her way in. In the bathroom, she finds some pills for nausea prescribed to Kenzie’s brother. In Kenzie’s bedroom, she finds a ceramic bird figurine, which she intentionally shatters on the floor. She hears a noise which turns out to be a cat, but it scares her enough that she decides to leave.


The next day, Mrs. Bennett tells Addie she’s decided not to tell the principal but she’s getting a zero on the midterm unless she can bring her grades up. She gives her a list of peer tutors. Addie thanks her, amazed at her luck lately. After a poetry magazine meeting, Nate asks her what happened with Eve, and Addie tells him — it makes her realize that Nate was the reason Eve went easy on her. She gives him a big hug in gratitude, but is taken aback when Nate gets an erection. After the initial embarrassment, they end up kissing in his office. Nate then suggests they move things to the photography darkroom for more privacy.

After kissing for a while, Nate drives her home. He asks her if that was her first kiss, and she implies that is was. On the drive home, he refers to her as his soulmate and says that she has inspired him to start writing again. He also reminds her that she should not tell anyone about this.

When Nate gets home, he’s eager to have sex with his wife, but she’s busy and confused about what’s going on with him.

Chapters 40 – 47

Addie continues to sneak away with Nate to the darkroom. He shows her a poem that he wrote for her, and they have sex for the first time.

Three weeks into their affair, it’s announced that Mary’s poem has won the poetry competition. Addie is confused, since she’d thought that her poem was the one that was submitted. When she confronts him about it, he says that Lotus complained since typically seniors are entered into the competition. Addie lets it go, and Nate talks about how unfair it is that his “other half” is a sixteen-year-old girl. Addie thinks of how much better things would be if Eve wasn’t around.

Addie is at lunch when Kenzie purposely bumps into Addie’s tray, spilling it on the floor. She sees the poem Nate wrote for Addie and teases her about. Addie goes to buy a sandwich to replace her lunch, buy doesn’t have the money. Hudson pays instead. In math class, Eve yells at Addie for trying to eat her sandwich, and Addie resents her, too.


Eve has dinner with Shelby and Justin that night. When she arrives home, Eve thinks she hears someone in the bushes. When she gets inside, she thinks she sees Addie running off. She tells Nate what he gets home, but he is skeptical. However, Eve insists that Addie seems to have a problem with her and she plans to talk to the principal about Addie. She is upset but feels better when Nate beckons her to have sex with him.


Meanwhile, Addie knows she made a mistake in going there. She recalls what happened with Mr. Tuttle before — she’d been upset that night and had decided to go to him for support. However, she’d looked in the window and saw that he was having dinner with his wife and thought she should leave them alone — except that someone spotted her and called the police and suddenly Mr. Tuttle was in trouble. Soon, Principal Higgins was asking her if he had “touched” her, and she’d said yes since he had touched her shoulder once, but she hadn’t meant it in the way they took it.

Nate messages her to let her know she made a “big mistake” in going to his house. He tells her to “deny everything” when the principal asks her about it. Addie does as instructed.


Addie confronts Lotus about forcing Nate to choose her poem instead, but Lotus denies it. She says she never said anything and Mr. Bennett simply ended up choosing to submit hers instead. Upset, Addie goes to see Nate, but he is not happy to see her. When she gets upset, he softens slightly and tries to comfort her.

Meanwhile, Principal Higgins accepts Addie’s denials, but Eve is left unsatisfied. She knows what she saw. As she wonders why Addie would do that, it occurs to her that Addie could be stalking Nate. Eve goes to see Nate, but sees him at his desk with Addie and watches him comfort her. She then sees them kiss.

Chapters 48 – 58

Eve is furious at Nate, but instead of flipping out, she takes a photo. She reminds herself that Addie is a child and that Nate’s the one who should be better. She also messages Jay to meet up that night. Jay tells her she needs to leave Nate, and Eve knows he’s right.

When Nate gets home, Eve drunkenly confronts him about what she saw. She tells him she wants a divorce and the house, and he agrees. She also says that he needs to end things with Addie and resign as a teacher since he’s not fit to be teaching children. She tells him to go teach adult education instead. At this, Nate bristles, saying that this job is his livelihood and he starts questioning whether anyone would believe Eve — but Eve tells him about the photo. He gives in and agrees to resign.

Nate messages Addie that night to end things and tells her what happened. Distraught, Addie goes to see Eve to try to convince her that what she and Nate have is real and that he’s not taking advantage of her.

Eve tries to be kind to Addie when Addie insists she’s in love and that Eve just doesn’t understand. However Addie starts getting hysterical. Eve tells her she needs to report this to the principal. Suddenly, Addie grabs a frying pan from the kitchen and brings it down on Eve’s head.

Seeing Eve there unconscious, Addie is horrified at what she’s done and doesn’t know what to do. She uses Eve’s phone to call Nate. He soon shows up and is shocked but calm. He deletes the incriminating photo off Eve’s phone and tells Addie that they need to cover their trail. He has a plan to make it seem like she went to visit her family in New Jersey.

When Eve regains consciousness, she sees Nate there alone. She begs him to call 911. But Nate is worried Eve is going to try to ruin is life, and he chokes her to death. Shortly after as Addie comes back with a sheet to wrap Eve’s body in, she notices the red marks around her neck.

Part II

Chapters 59 – 64

Nate instructs Addie to drive Eve’s car and leave it at the train station so it seems like she was on her way out of town to see her family. Afterwards, he tells her they need to bury the body. They arrive at a pumpkin patch. As they dig, Addie starts to ask him about the red marks around Eve’s neck, but he evades the question.

When the grave is dug, Nate leave to get something, but then doesn’t return. Addie deals with the situation herself and then messages him on “Snapflash” (the app they’d been using to communicate) since she doesn’t even have his number. Stranded and alone at 3AM in the morning, Addie calls Hudson, who comes to get her, even though she is an hour away. When he arrives, she asks him not to tell anyone that he came to pick her up.

Back at home, Nate finds a pair of Eve’s shoes in the shower and thinks he hears someone in the house, but tells himself it must be in his head. He doesn’t respond to Addie’s messages.

Chapters 65 – 69

The next day, Nate calls the police to inform them that his wife is missing. He tells Detective Sprague that she was supposed to be visiting her parents, but never showed up and she isn’t picking up her phone. Detective Sprague tells him that they found her car at the commuter station, but that she never used the train ticket. Nate mentions that Addie is a student who has a grudge against Eve after being caught cheating on a test.

Detective Sprague looks around the house and Nate is shocked when he sees a pair of Eve’s heels, covered in mud and with a piece of pumpkin smashed into the heel, in the kitchen. Nate knows something is wrong and that someone must’ve planted them there. He doesn’t think it’s something Addie would do and instead wondering if there’s someone else Eve was involved with that would do this.

Detective Sprague goes to question Addie, bringing up the incident outside Eve’s house and mentioning the angry-letter assignment that Nate had asked Addie to write. After the detective leaves, Addie’s mother pleads for her to tell her the truth, but Addie continues to deny everything like Nate had told her to do.

That night, Detective Sprague tells Nate that she suspects Addie. The doorbell rings and Nate finds a box with a pair of women’s shoes, and he realizes someone is intentionally taunting him.

Chapters 70 – 77

When Detective Sprague talks to Nate again, this time she has questions about his relationship with Addie, having gathered that their relationship was closer than he initially let on. She then goes to speak with Addie about it, but Addie denies it. Before she leaves, she lets Addie know that Nate is trying to pin the crime on her so she needs to say something if that’s not true.

Kenzie shows up at Addie’s place wanting to talk. She apologizes for her behavior. She recognized the poem that she’d seen Addie with — it’s the poem that Nate had wrote for her (Kenzie). Kenzie had also been sleeping with Mr. Bennett. Kenzie’s brother had leukemia and her parents were busy dealing with that. Nate gave her attention at a time when she needed it and made her feel special. It started when she was 14, and she wants them to go to the police about it. Kenzie also tells her that nothing is going on with her and Hudson, they’re just friends.

Kenzie and Addie go to the police station and they tell them about their relationships with Nate. Addie then tells Detective Sprague about what happened with Eve.


When Nate gets home, there’s a rotting pumpkin in the kitchen. Paranoid about what is going on, he drives to the pumpkin patch where Eve had been buried, but all he sees there is an empty grave.

Part III

Chapters 78 – 80

(The book shifts to Eve’s perspective.) Eve actually survived being choked by Nate. She had woken up to the sounds of Addie calling out for Nate after he ditched her at the pumpkin patch. She was buried in the sheet in a shallow grave, but Addie had merely covered her with leaves. Eve then called Jay to come pick her up, and he sets her up in the tool shed at his house so she has somewhere to stay.

When Nate shows up at the grave, Jay and Eve knock him out and throw him in the shallow grave. They bury him alive. Eve thinks about how he was once her English teacher when he was a new college graduate and how she’d been 15 when they’d started seeing each other. She thinks about the poem that he once wrote for her (which is the same poem that Kenzie and Addie were both told was written for them).

Epilogue

Six months later, Hudson and Addie are best friends again. It’s believed that Nate ran off and disappeared when he realized he was going to be labeled a sex offender. There was less interest in chasing him down after Eve re-materialized and seemed to be okay, claiming that she’d just wanted to get away for a few days.

It’s revealed that the “Jay” that Eve was seeing was actually Hudson (“Jay” is short for Jankowski), but that’s over now. The book ends with Hudson and Addie holding hands.

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