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Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson, Laura Park, Bryan Kennedy and Chris Tebbetts is a funny look at life in those painful formative years. The story revolves around Rafe Khatchadorian. He begins the new year with a quiet attitude, but that doesn't last long. He meets his arch enemy, Miller, in homeroom, and things go downhill from there. After listening to the boring speech on the rules, Rafe has had enough. It was time to stop being quiet and have some fun. He creates a game: Rules Are Not For Everyone! He takes the school rule book and crosses off each rule as he breaks it. The object is to break every rule before the school year is over. As the reader can imagine, he ends up spending a lot of time in detention.
This book has received some criticism because Rafe is not a child anyone wants his/her child to emulate. However, there are other aspects to this book that should be considered. Rafe is from a home where the male figure and his mother are not married. The mother spends much time working because the male is a lazy bum.
I’m not sure this book is just for kids. I do think there are a lot of children living the life depicted by Rafe. However, I think this book is also for teachers and other adults. When a child acts out as Rafe does, there is a reason. The principal was ready to get rid of Rafe, to give up on him. One teacher saw the true Rafe, a very talented young man. I had a major problem with the mom in this story. She was allowing a man she was not married to, to live in her home with her two children. The man lay on the couch and slept most of the time. When he spoke to the kids it was in an angry shout. She worked extra hours to support this loser. See why I think this is a book for parents and teachers? The authors cleverly wrote a funny story that will keep the reader laughing while hopefully learning to look beneath the surface of a kid. It is well written; the pace is fast, and yet flowed smoothly. My copy was of the audio book, and I loved it. The voice of the reader was perfection as he captured Rafe’s essence. The sound quality was excellent. The art work is an added bonus. I highly recommend this book.