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Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Middle School by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

I have finally read my first James Patterson novel. I know you're thinking "Patterson? With your delicate sensibilities?" Okay, so maybe you aren't thinking that, but I will tell you that I shy away from Patterson and his ilk. I find detective fiction (as riveting and pageturning as it gets) to be far too violent for my tastes. So now you really are asking, "why Patterson?" It all started with a book in my mailbox.

Little, Brown and Company sent me a copy of a book called "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life," I flipped through it, read a little, and decided to take it home with me. It looked cute and funny enough to pass the evening with. I did not expect to enjoy this middle grade novel as much as I did, nor did I expect it to come from the man I later found to be its author, you guessed it - James Patterson.

"Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" is Rafe's story, he's an average kid with an average disdain for middle school. Plus he's got a friend who's kind of a bad influence, but you can't help but enjoy him. Rafe and Leo are the kinds of kids whose lives at home are sometimes difficult and they remain mostly obscure in school until they come up with a plan. The plan is to break every rule in the Hills Village Middle School Code of Conduct. Rafe and Leo make a game of breaking all the rules, assigning point values (the more dangerous the rule breaking the higher the points) and lives (only three, which can be lost by neglecting an opportunity to break a rule or not acting swiftly enough). Rafe immediately endears himself to the reader by making a rule of his own: no one is to be hurt by consequence of his rule breaking.

This is a great story with a lot of sweetness, heart, and humor. I would definitely recommend it to reluctant middle grade readers, especially those who like the Wimpy Kid books as it shares with that series the journal-like first person narration with plenty of humor and illustrations. "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" is a good story with a great character. Rafe is a perfect blend of fragile kindness and young rebellion.

Advance Reading Copy reviewed from Little Brown Books for Young Readers

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