"Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life" cleverly delves into the events that make middle school so awkward: cranky bus drivers, tardy slips, bathroom passes and lots of rules.
It is written by James Patterson, author of popular adult series including The Women's Murder Club and Alex Cross titles, and Chris Tebbetts.
Rafe Khatchadorian lives with his mom, who works two jobs, and her unemployed, couch potato boyfriend. Even though things are tense at home, Rafe cannot completely focus on his family life because he's about to start his first year at Hills Village Middle School.
Rafe is the opposite of cool. He has one friend, a quiet artist named Leo. They invent the perfect game to get through the year: Rafe will break every rule in the school handbook.
Unfortunately, Rafe's crush on a new girl at school complicates things. She's a by-the-book student who doesn't respond well to his tardiness, gum-chewing and running in the halls.
Readers can sympathize with Rafe, who is willing to do anything for attention. As his anarchy results in more and more detentions and bad report cards, one of his teachers takes an interest in him. She's determined to find out what's going on, even though Rafe's cooperation is nearly impossible.
"Middle School" is illustrated by Rafe and Leo, so it appears to be a cross between a novel and a comic book. Yet the authors aren't afraid of going into some deeper themes of death and abandonment.
Hopefully, this isn't the last we hear from Rafe Khatchadorian.