Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Booki Vivat
For ages 8 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Tara Sands
HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio, 2016   ISBN: 978-1441738073

For most of us the word “middle” is just a word, but for Abbie Wu middle is a terrible word that is laden with doom. She is a middle child, the child who is not cute like her little sister Clara, and not “good at everything” like her big brother Peter. She is in a kind of no man’s land stuck between two admired children. She hates it. Then there is middle school, the place that Abbie will be going when school starts up in September. She is dreading middle school. Nothing with the word middle in it is a good thing.

When Abbie gets her welcome packet from her middle school she is even more sure that she is doomed. In middle school you have to choose an elective class and she has no idea what to choose. Unlike her friend Maxine, Abbie has no interest in acting, and unlike her other friend Logan, she is no good with computers. She is not musical, cannot dance, is no good at sports, and cannot be trusted with cooking implements. In short, Abbie does not have a Thing, something that she is good at and that she enjoys doing. Not having a Thing stresses her out even more than she is already stressed out.

The first day of school is indeed fraught with terrible moments. Abbie’s homeroom teacher is terrifying, she is given study hall as an elective class, and the one thing that should be good, lunch, is terrible. The eighth graders have their own line and they are the ones who get the good food. The younger grades have to make do with mystery meat and lumpy mashed potatoes. The injustice of it all really bothers Abbie. How is a kid supposed to get anything to eat when the cafeteria is ruled over by corrupt lunch ladies and when parents don’t have the good sense to send their children to school with decent food?

One day, in study hall (which is a complete waste of time as far as Abbie is concerned) Abbie ends up arranging a food trade between herself and some of the other kids in the class. Soon trading is taking place between everyone in study hall, and before you know it food trading is school wide. Suddenly people know who Abbie Wu is and not just because she is cute Clara and smart Peter’s sister. Suddenly Abbie’s case of the Middles is not so bad, and she dares to enjoy her school life a little. Until she is summoned to the principal’s office.

Listeners will quickly come to like Abbie and her dramatic ways. This is a girl who, when she feels something, really feels it; and she is really feeling very troubled by the middleness of her life. As far as she is concerned her case of the Middles is ruining everything and perhaps she will be scarred forever. Or maybe she will discover something about herself that she never knew.