HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL

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HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL

By Donna Gephart

Delacorte Press, 2010

ISBN 978-0-385-73973-7

 

David Greenberg is out for the summer and dismayed by the changes that he is seeing in his best friend. His best friend Elliot has noticed girls and instead of the usual summer stuff that the two of them enjoy doing all he wants to do is hang out at the mall and try to glimpse the girl who drew two hearts around his year book entry. David’s and his friends usual activity involves recording a video called TalkTime. David and Elliot write, star, produce, and put on youtube these videos. Often David’s hamster Hammy is featured. One of the features of TalkTime is David’s Top 6 ½ Lists.

 

David’s cousin Jack tells him scary stories about what can happen at the middle school and cranks up David’s anxiety level to over one hundred. David who has always been a model award winning student starts a fight his first day of sixth grade and is sent home for detention. Then he has to make up his homework, and make new friends. The novel tells of David’s loneliness since the mother who was so close to him left them to go raise beets. All through the story, David struggles with his missing mother, making friends, and fitting in at middle school. Elliot teams up with Tommy to torment him. Tommy becomes David’s tormentor. He bullies him, assaults him and makes him run out of school.

 

Here is an excerpt from the book: “Hey, Bub, look at this.” I push my face into hers.

 

She wipes bagel crumbs off my chedck.

 

“No,” I say. “Look.” I move closer.

 

“Vos?” she asks, squinting.

 

I turn the light on over the table and point to the corners of my upper lip. “See?”

 

Bubbe gets her glasses. “What am I looking for, bubelah?”

 

“My mustache.”

 

“Pfft!” Bubbe waves her hand. “You call that a mustache?” She shoves her upper lip into my face. “Now that’s a mustache.”

 

David makes a new friend, and the only problem is, she is a girl. He moves into a relationship with a girl in his transition to middle school. He still doesn’t have anyone to eat lunch with, and is still tormented in the lunch room by Tommy. But his new friend sends the internet address of his videos to all of her homeschool friends. David and his videos become an instant sensation. He has reporters calling him for interviews. He has his dream of working in the school newsroom realized after they told him that no sixth grader was allowed to participate in the school news.

 

This story is about the changes that happen when you move into middle school. The transition is very challenging for everyone, students and parents. This story relates some of those challenges. I’m sure every middle school student or sixth grader can relate. Even the girls will enjoy reading about how David comes to terms with his new environment and the changes he is having to make.

 

The dialogue is realistic for this age. The settings are well done. David’s character is well developed as the middle schooler struggling to adjust to life that is not easy. This story is told with humor, and I’m sure a variety of reading abilities will enjoy it both girls and boys. I enjoyed it. I would give it a five out of five stars.

About Mary T Kincaid

Writer of fiction and non-fiction for children of all ages. Love the mental age where the rules of logic are suspended and there is a willingness to enter the story world no matter what your physical age.

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