Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
(Middle School # 1)
By: James Patterson, Chris Tebbetts and Laura Park (illustrator)
Pub. Date: June 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: TLA 2013
Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he's got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class-5,000 points! Running in the hallway-10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm-50,000 points! But when Rafe's game starts to catch up with him, he'll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he's finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he's been avoiding.
Blockbuster author James Patterson delivers a genuinely hilarious-and surprisingly poignant-story of a wildly imaginative, one-of-kind kid that you won't soon forget.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life wasn't even on my radar until I received a copy at TLA. I absolutely loved it and went out and bought the next two books in the series right away.
Rafe is about to start middle school and that is the last place he wants to be. His home life is kind of crappy with a worthless step dad, an annoying sister and a mom who is always working to support the family. His only friend is a boy named Leo. With the help of Leo, he decides to make his middle school years as interesting as possible by breaking every single rule in the school code of conduct. While some of the things are a little outrageous, you have to realize that Rafe is only 11-12 years old. He doesn't know any better. As we get to know him better, we learn that there are definitely some mental issues going on, but I think they happen because of his loneliness and guilt.
The chapters are short, so it's a perfect filler if you only have a few minutes to read. There are a lot of fun drawings throughout the book as well. I am not a fan of James Patterson since he doesn't even write his own books, but there were many parts where I couldn't stop laughing. Whoever the ghost writer was is very talented!
Middle School would definitely appeal to middle school students but my main concern was the punishments. It was almost like Rafe was able to get away with everything, and the end made it seem like he gets rewarded for all of his "crimes". I am just afraid that readers will think they could get away with breaking all of the rules too.
As a teacher I could definitely appreciate some of the interactions between Rafe and his teachers. They were so realistic! I literally have had some of the same conversations with my 9th graders!