Literature?s power to consider moral and ethical issues to expand and re?ect on our own lives has long been considered a vital dimension of subject English. Moreover, critical perspectives ask how texts and pedagogies serve particular interests and beliefs, leaving other perspectives silent. `Safe? elements of teaching are reinforced by discourses established through experience, while popular narratives can distort the complexities of teaching. Initial teachers witness little in their ?eld experience to challenge inscribed ways of thinking, which marginalises the role of critical theory in classroom practice. In this article, we use a pedagogy of discomfort to explore how an adolescent novel can challenge initial teachers? notions of literature teaching. We discuss the ways in which unsettling ?ction based on fact serves to dislocate certainties, and suggest possibilities for reconstructing initial teachers? approaches to literature and pedagogy.