Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1015
The Struggles of Middle School Life
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Alex's best friend and constant supporter, Luke, moves away and Alex has to face the school bully T.J. without him. To make matters worse, another boy his age moves into Luke's house, but Simon is geeky, bespectacled, and wears odd looking shoes. He quickly becomes T.J.'s target as well, and defening him puts Alex in an even worse position. Alex's father has just lost his job selling insurance (which Alex thinks might be his fault!) and has taken a position at a local burger joint, which also causes kids at school to make fun of him. Adding to his problems is the fact that he frequently has to babysit his young brother Dylan, who manages to get into trouble constantly, whether it is dumping powered ice tea mix in the kitchen to use as "sand" or keeping Alex awake because there are monsters in their bedroom. While Alex isn't thrilled to be friends with Simon, their mothers encourage them to spend time together, and Alex learns to appreciate Simon's struggles. When Alex overhears a reason that T.J. might be given to bullying him and his new friend, he tries to figure out a way to help T.J. Life improves slowly but surely.
Good Points
The difficulties faced by both Alex's and Simon's families are realistic and timely, and it's nice that the parents are shown to be concerned and connected to their kids. Alex is not happy with the turn of events, but tries to deal with the situations that arise in the best way possible.

Siblings play a large roll in the life of tween students, so having Alex have to babysit his younger brother, especially while his mother runs a beauty parlor out of the front room of their house, is a nice touch.

Readers who need the kind of reassurance provided by books that cover the struggles of middle school, such as Hasak's 33 Minutes, Gephart's How to Survive Middle School and Peirce's Big Nate will enjoy this short and realistic look at challenges some middle school students face.
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