Posted in Fiction, Humor, Middle School, Tween Reads

Book Review: Middle School – The Worst Years of My Life, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (Little, Brown, 2011)

Recommended for ages 10-14

Rafe Katchadorian is having a tough year: his mom is working double shifts at her diner job in order to support him, his sister, and her lazy, unemployed fiance, and he’s already attracted the attention of the school bully during his first week of middle school. What’s a kid to do? Make a name for himself, of course!

With some prodding by his best friend, Leonardo the Silent, Rafe decides that he’s going to break every single rule in the middle school code of conduct. There are guidelines to follow, though – he’s got to have witnesses every time he breaks a rule; he’s got three “lives” – he loses one if he passes up an opportunity to break a rule – and finally, he can’t hurt anyone in his quest to break the rules. How bad can a good kid get, and how far is Rafe willing to go to break all the rules, and will he break his own in the process?
I started this book expecting a light, humorous tale and was amazed at the punch Patterson and Tibbett packed into this middle school story. Rafe’s family issues aside, there are a multitude of issues in his life. In reality, he would be considered an at-risk tween with a need for a solid support system. Two major plot developments may suprise readers, but these are important stories for tweens and young teens to be exposed to – children with similar life stories may appreciate a literary figure they can relate to, and other readers will glimpse into another kid’s world, possibly starting a dialogue or creating a new sensitivity among them.
 Chris Tebbetts is a YA author whose love of books and libraries began as a child. His website suggests links for writerw and readers, and provides a list of Good Reads for young readers and teens.

James Patterson is best known for his Alex Cross mystery series, but he is a Children’s Choice Award-winning author, receiving the award in 2010 for his book Max, one of the books in his popular Maximum Ride series. His Daniel X series has been praised by Good Morning America as being some of the best books for boys, and the first book in his Witch & Wizard series spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Patterson’s website, ReadKiddoRead, is dedicated to getting kids reading and suggests titles for all ages and interests.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s