Wednesday, August 15, 2012


One of my pet peeves in books for middle graders is this idea that middle school is hell. I mean, I'm sure it is hell for some. But I also believe that there's something to that self-fulfilling prophecy theory: the more we tell kids middle school is hell, the more it will become hell.

No, I like the positive spin, the hopeful outlook. This is, in part, based on my own life experience, which includes middle school years that were pretty darn awesome. Sure I had my hardships and insecurities. But all in all, those were happy years, wonder years. It's one of the reasons I like writing for this audience so much -- getting to know characters those ages reaquaints me with myself at those ages. And you know, I like what I see.

Which is why I really love it when I find something in a book about middle school that isn't about hell, but about something else. Like this passage, from the adult novel THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker, in which the heroine Julia is a 6th grader dealing with the changes brought on by her age and by "the slowing" of the earth:

"This was middle school, the age of miracles, the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove. Our first flaws were emerging, but they were being corrected. Blurry vision could be fixed invisibly with the magic of the contact lenses. Crooked teeth were pulled straight with braces. Spotty skin could be chemically cleared. Some girls were turning beautiful. A few boys were growing tall. I knew I still looked like a child."

I like that: the age of miracles. And the novel is worth your time, too!

1 comment:

  1. I just finished The Penderwicks which also has such a positive outlook in the characters, Irene. I loved it. Thanks for this idea that 12 and up can be a happy time. I will bookmark the book & look for it as soon as I can find time.


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