Monday, September 26, 2011

Middle Grade Spotlight: Middle School - The WORST Years of My Life

Title: Middle School: The WORST Years of My Life
Author: James Patterson
Genre: Fiction/General
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: 2011
Pages: 288

Description: Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he's got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class-5,000 points! Running in the hallway-10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm-50,000 points! But when Rafe's game starts to catch up with him, he'll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he's finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he's been avoiding.


My Splats: James Patterson takes the reader on a fun-loving yet intriguing look into those awkward tween years, following Rafe--an incoming 6th grader as he ponders right from wrong and his deepest inner feelings, and how to survive middle school.

Rafe's voice is genuine tween with a splice of unique maturity. Initially, he has what appears to be an imaginary friend, who guides his decisions, attitudes, and actions. In reality, we learn at the end that his imagination is far more moving than a simple imaginary friend. He's a gifted artist, who seems lost to find his own identity. What MGer hasn't gone through that plight???

One of my favorite features of the book is that Rafe has a sweet compassion for his mother, which I found refreshing in a world of teen/tween literature, where for the most part, parents are portrayed as snobbish, into themselves, complacent, or virtually invisible. Rafe's affection for his mom transforms him to see certain aspects of his life differently, more deeply than he normally would have. He's moved to deal--note: I didn't use accept--with her new relationship and his younger sister's mettlesome ways. Though his self-appointed goal of breaking every rule in the student handbook is a tad misguided, it does have its perks and teaches him a few things about taking ownership for one's life and responsibility for one's actions. But you'll have to read his story to discover the specifics.   

Do you have a favorite MG story? What was about it that you related to??


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoy James Patterson's books in general and this sounds good.

    I don't read Middle Grade contemporary. Just fantasy and paranormal so I don't have a book I can relate to. My middle grade years were painful and I'm not sure I want to revisit them.

  2. This does sound wonderful. I love MG contemporary that gets it right emotionally!

  3. Excellent review. Sounds awesome, Sheri! I love Patterson anyway, so this is a book I will buy. I might let my youngest, Ivy read it too. (She's going through that right now.) Even though she's homeschooled, she still has problems. Homeschool co-op, etc.

    I write MG contemporary. YAY for it! (((hugs)))

  4. this sounds really fun, but sweet and a little emotional. Really loved your review!

  5. This sounds like a great book. I wasn't too impressed with his Witch and Wizard YA book. Maybe this one will be better.

  6. Is there anything Patterson doesn't write? LOL Sounds really cute! :)

  7. Awwww.... that sounds like such a sweet book! I love the way you described the depth of his character and his relationship with his mom.

  8. James Patterson?!?!?! Well, knock me over with a feather!

  9. hi miss sheri! im thinking this is a book i could like. the cover is way cool.
    ...hugs from lenny

  10. Can I just say I love your splats. They make me happy. And I think you are a good reviewer. Not everyone can do it, including myself. So, thanks!

  11. I've heard great things about this one, so I'm glad you reviewed it!! :-)

  12. Sounds like a fun read.

    I love fantasy MG so one of my faves is the Angie Sage collection of Magyk books.

    I also love British author Jonathan Stroud and his Bartemeus collection. Really fun and exciting books.

  13. Love your splats for ratings!

    Embarrassing admission time: I must admit I would probably have given this a pass purely because it's written by James Patterson (who I've come to believe is a small factory, rather than a person.) Your review showed me that I mustn't judge a book by its author... thank you!

  14. I don't read MG, but this is perfect for one of my sons. :D

  15. I've seen this on the NYT bestseller's list. Love your review!


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