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Customer Review

131 of 157 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT suitable for a 10 year old!, November 26, 2012
This review is from: Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life (Paperback)
I purchased this book based on great reviews - I was totally floored when I read this book after my 10 year old son finished it, as the book details countless inappropriate situations for a child that age.

Let me say I'm a young parent and I don't consider myself a prude by any means - I'm not overly protective of the material my child reads (I've seen parents give books bad ratings for using the word "suck" - come on now).

However, this book is THE ONLY book I've ever actually blushed while reading. The fact that Rafe calls his step father "Bear" because he's as mean as the animal was certainly disturbing to me at first. I was waiting for that "ah-ha!" moment when Rafe realizes Bear isn't such a bear after all, but that moment never comes. They depict the step father in this story as a jobless loser who is mean to his step children and sits on his behind all day watching TV while his saint of a wife (Rafe's mom) works double shifts at the local diner. And IF ONLY Bear would just get a job, poor mom wouldn't have to work so much. At one point in the book, Rafe's mom admits that she "doesn't always make the best decisions", referring to her relationship with Bear. Towards the end of the book, Rafe's mom and Bear get in an argument and he "accidentally pushes" her - he then leaves a message on their answering machine later that evening to let them know he's staying at a buddy's house and is thankfully Rafe's mom didn't press charges. WHAT?!

Beyond that - the premise of the book is that Rafe's imaginary friend Leo urges him to break all of the rules in this new middle school's Code of Conduct manual. Mischievous and not entirely offensive at first - but Rafe becomes obsessed with acting out and eventually gets expelled from school because of his behavior (the last straw was an act of vandalism). Still - I kept waiting for the "ah-ha!" moment when Rafe would realize breaking the rules and seeking negative attention wasn't the best use of his time and energy - but nope, no such moment ever comes. In fact, his mother seems to make excuses for his behavior by revealing that his imaginary friend Leo is a manifestation of his dead twin brother. Again- WHAT?!

While reading the book I often felt as though I was reading a creative writing piece that a disturbed teenager wrote. There was no moral to the story. It was simply the rantings of an unhappy middle schooler and a chronology of his distructive behavior. I realize there are children in the world who live with step parents they don't like, or have parents who work so much they rarely see them; however, this book made no attempt to identify with the plight of those children and offer hope. It simply told a disturbing story with a very unhappy ending.

I would not recommend this book for a child under the age of 12 at least based on content - and even then a reader over age 12 would truly be wasting their time reading this.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 21, 2013 10:57:24 PM PDT
Thanks for the helpful review. I'll through it away and not let the grandkids read it.

Posted on Sep 22, 2013 10:13:05 PM PDT
Wow.....did you ever miss the entire point of the book. Reading this book WITH children allow the "Ahha" moments you keep waiting for to happen in discussion with children. This is completely a teachable book and IS what children at this age are think and by reading this story WITH children these topics can be taught.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 23, 2013 6:27:21 AM PDT
a.sage says:
At age 10, my child is an independent reader, as reading indepedently helps build his skills. Thus why, as a responsible parent, I read the same book as my child to discuss it with him once we've both read it. Whether you read WITH your kid, or ALONG with your kid seperately is not relevant. My opinion of this book is not a result of "user error" as you imply, there were no lessons to be learned in this book.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2013 11:58:39 PM PDT
Kat says:
Um, you are a prude. Life isn't perfect, and many 10 year olds can relate to Rafe's feelings.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2013 11:59:10 PM PDT
Kat says:
Don't throw it away; it is a good book. The poster is overreacting like most helicopter parents do.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2013 9:11:28 AM PDT
a.sage says:
Well, stereotyping people based on an alternate opinion makes you sound like a SWELL parent :)

Posted on Jun 6, 2014 8:27:42 AM PDT
A. Falkofske says:
I am on amazon looking for books for my son who is about to enter middle school to read over the summer. I have not read the book, but based on the summary, I agree with a.sage. As for me, the title of the book alone turns me off. I don't won't my son to read this book and think, "oh, middle school must be a horrible place." And what exactly is the point of detailing the many ways that the main character attempts to get in trouble. Why even put these ideas into kids' heads?

Posted on Oct 1, 2014 9:04:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 1, 2014 9:10:28 PM PDT
If you think this book is bad because the kid calls his stepdad "Bear," maybe you ought to consider homeschooling your child. I am 20 now, but when I was 10, our school required us to read books like The Hatchet - mother is having an affair, parents are divorcing, the kid nearly dies in a plane crash on his way to visit dad, then gets so fed up with trying to survive in the wild by himself for 6 months, he tries to kill himself by cutting his wrists with a hatchet. I read THAT when I was 10 in fifth grade - required public school reading - and it was an AMAZING book.

If your child is in public school, I assure you, far darker content than this book is on the way (books like The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, Roll of Thunder, The Silent Boy, Touching Spirit Bear, even Black Beauty can all be very dark, and very very good - all were required reading for me IN MIDDLE SCHOOL.)

I am not trying to tell you how to raise your child, but I want you to be aware of what your child may have to encounter in terms of reading in public school. Not every book will have an "aha!" moment, especially today. Some kids live in genuinely tough circumstances and there has to be books for them too. I love my dad desperately, and he is one of the hardest working people I know, but there ARE dead-beats out there, and heaven knows, they ARE in a lot of books. As much as we may want to, not everyone can be changed.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2014 2:01:40 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 18, 2014 2:01:50 PM PST]

Posted on Oct 19, 2015 7:38:36 PM PDT
jreader says:
Not a suitable review! You spoiled the book for me, i wasn't supposed to know that the friend was imaginary. thanks a lot.
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