Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson
From the back of the Play A Way:THIS IS THE TOTALLY INSANE STORY OF HOW I, RAFE KHATCHADORIAN,
- fought and overcame a diabolical teacher called the Dragon lady
- sold my soul to the school bully, a dollar at a time
- wrestled with a tea live bear, repeatedly
- fell kind of in “like” with the most popular girl at school
- went into the soda business and went bust
- and accidentally-on-purpose hurt all the epopel I care about
- The worst days of my lifer were good sometimes. Bad sometimes. But mostly they were hilarious.
First, I must say this is a book that was meant to be read, not listened to on audio. The print version is full of illustrations that are very important to the story. However, it’s such a popular title and I was tired of waiting for a print copy that I opted for the audio version. Though I missed out on the illustrations, Bryan Kennedy did an excellent job reading the story.
I often wear several hats when I read a book. I’m a reader, a parent, an educator, a librarian who provides reader’s advisory for children, teens, and adults. Hopefully, this will explain why this review might appear to be a little schizophrenic. As a reader, I enjoyed this book and I know that several of my patrons would enjoy it as well. As a parent and an educator, I just couldn’t help cringe at the Rafe’s escapades. As a parent I didn’t want to like this book. I had to remind myself it was NOT written for me.
What I liked about the book: When you first look at this book you might think of the wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. That’s what will prompt many students to pick it up. Yet it’s a much different book. Though humorous, this book is a more serious look at some very serious issues: loss of a sibling, step-parents, domestic violence, bullying, self esteem (or lack thereof) – all set against the back drop of just trying to survive middle school. Patterson realizes that middle school is when things begin to get tough for many kids. It’s not as easy as adults would like to believe. Patterson covers those issues with a thin veneer of humor without taking away from the seriousness of those issues. This book will speak to students struggling with just trying to survive middle school.
What I didn’t like about the book: I don’t like the choices that Rafe makes. I don’t like that it takes almost the entire book for adults to really clue into the fact that this young man needs help – that he’s a troubled kid, not just a trouble maker. It’s true that the story is told from Rafe’s point of view and therefore, both the reader and Rafe might fail to recognize the attempts to help made by some of the adults. Still, I really didn’t like that Rafe was allowed to flounder until the end of the school year. While I don’t like these things. They do make the story more realistic. Life isn’t a 30 minute sitcom with a happy ending five minutes before the last commercial.
Booklady’s Rating: 4 of 5