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Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life Paperback – November 6, 2012
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A #1 Indiebound Bestseller
"A keen appreciation of kids' insecurities and an even more astute understanding of what might propel boy readers through a book.... a perfectly pitched novel."―Los Angeles Times
* "Patterson artfully weaves a deeper and... thought-provoking tale of childhood coping mechanisms and everyday school and family realities.... Hand this book to misbehaving, socially awkward, or disengaged boys and girls.... It might help them believe that there is a place for them in the world, no matter how dire times may seem in the present."―School Library Journal, starred review
"Cleverly delves into the events that make middle school so awkward: cranky bus drivers, tardy slips, bathroom passes and lots of rules.... Hopefully, this isn't the last we hear from Rafe Khatchadorian."―The Associated Press
Incredibly detailed and imaginative illustrations . . . add depth and humor. . . . an enjoyable story that even the most reluctant readers should enjoy."
―Library Media Connection
"There is substance as well as appeal here.... Patterson deftly manages the pace of revelations that take readers deeper into Rafe's fragile trust.... Readers ready for something else in the same vein but more substantive than Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Peirce's Big Nate should be introduced to Rafe."―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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Things aren't much better at home, with a bratty younger sister, a mom who works all the time, and a soon-to-be stepfather who sits around the house hogging the TV and is as much of a bully as Miller the Killer. At least Rafe has his best friend, Leo, who doesn't say much but has a great imagination. In fact, Leo is the one who gave him the best idea ever. To spice things up, Rafe creates a game with the goal of breaking every rule in the middle school's code of conduct handbook. He assigns points to each rule, with bonus points available for creativity, getting laughs and being witnessed by the cutest girl in the class, Jeanne Galletta.
Life definitely gets more exciting, but Rafe also starts spending a lot more time in detention, and his mom is very disappointed in him. Then the trouble and heartache start mounding up so heavily on Rafe's shoulders where even his best friend can't help much. When the police get called in, Rafe finally crumbles. Then he gets some help from a very unexpected someone, and life promises to continue being interesting, but in a different, more positive way.
James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts team up for this amazing adventure about one boy's attempt at surviving middle school. The first thing that stands out is how absolutely hilarious the book is. Rafe is a very likable character, and readers will love laughing along with him. His rule-breaking game is incredibly imaginative and dives headfirst into the danger zone again and again. Rafe does have to face the consequences of his actions, though he does attract the attention of someone who helps him find a way to work through his issues.
This unique and fast moving storyline also has a couple of surprise bombs dropped along the way that make it even more compelling. Also noteworthy are the intensely detailed illustrations of Laura Park. They support the story line as they are the work of Rafe's friend, Leo, plus they add even more humor to the story. Patterson, Tebbetts and Park make a great team, and the proof is right here in MIDDLE SCHOOL, THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE.
--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman
The book glorifies breaking rules with the intent to be humorous and entertaining, of which it is seldom either. The boy ends up flunking 6th grade and is expelled, but seems ok with that, as he will probably transfer to an "art school" where he will presumably flourish. However, there is no reason to believe that he has learned any lessons, or that he will now be motivated to follow the rules.
All in all, this seems to be a quickly written book. The moral of the story seems to be, you can have a lot of fun breaking rules - and everything will turn out ok in the long run - and, if you're name is James Patterson, you can make a lot of money publishing just about anything.