Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

How to Survive Middle School

How to Survive Middle School

Donna Gephart
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 2010   ISBN: 978-0385737937

David Greenberg is going to middle school, and he is all ready for it to a be a great experience, just as elementary school was. Unfortunately, David’s first day at his new school is nothing short of a nightmare. He and his best friend Elliot are not talking to each other, David gets into trouble for following the school dress code (because of something Elliot said), and David has his first honest-to-goodness fight.  David’s dad has to come to school to pick David up, and he tells his son that he is “disappointed” in him. More than anything David wishes his mother was around to comfort him, but his mother “ran off” some time ago and she rarely communicates with her children.

David hopes that things will get better, but they don’t. Elliot continues to hang out with Tommy Murphy, who just happens to be the meanest boy in the school, and Tommy takes great pleasure in finding new ways to persecute David. The only decent thing in David’s life is his new friend, Sophie. Not only is Sophie smart and pretty, but she also thinks David’s YouTube videos are a funny and clever. In fact, she tells people about them, and soon David is getting dozens of views on his little movies. How is it that his personal life is such a disaster and yet his movies are becoming so popular?

This funny and often very poignant story perfectly captures the problems children can encounter when they move schools. Suddenly the rules that they were used to no longer apply, and there are new challenges to face. With sensitivity and humor, Donna Gephart gives her readers a story that is both meaningful and memorable.