Posted by Venus Bradley on Thursday, May 17, 2012
Labels: intermediate book review
Rafe is back in this sequel to the wonderful Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Although Rafe was supposed to go to Airbrook Arts Community School for the rest of middle school, life had different plans. After his mother's work burns down and she is unable to get a job, Rafe, his sister, and mother all move to the city with his Grandma. There is always a silver lining and that comes in the form of Cathedral School of the Arts who miracle of miracle thinks he is talented enough to attend. Not even an awesome arts academy can change things like a bad record or an absent father or an imaginary friend that he is far too old to have. Lost in the tumult, Rafe just wants to Get a Life, but being good this year proves to be harder than he imagined.
A perfect book for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid lovers, this second Middle School book has the fun drawings and great characters, but has a bit more levity and real life events that take it from a cute middle grade book with pictures into something deeper and more sinister. There is a wealth of reality here, with his mother unable to get a job and Rafe beginning to have questions about his father.
I wish there had been a bit more about Art and art school though. There was a lot of focus on what was going on a home and Rafe's new friend that I felt like I lost some of the reason why Rafe was there in the first place. Especially since everything kind of unravels (purposefully by the author) in the end. Patterson and Tebbetts accomplished a lot in this book and I admit I teared up towards the end, because Rafe is truly a great character.
Despite all this heaping praise though, I feel like the end was rather rushed and very convenient. When his new friend plays a cruel trick on him, Rafe is so quick and easy to forgive which felt nice but out of character. We have all been hurt before and I would venture to say that many of us carry the battle scars from supposed friends when we were kids and teenagers. Rafe just lets it go. Also, somehow the diner has been rebuilt in less than a year and is up and running and his mom gets her job back and everything is just so--perfect. And somehow he is allowed back into the school he was originally going to attend. What it felt like was the publisher said that book needed to be around 250 pages so when they realized they were running out of room they just crammed everything into it.
Although I loved the book, the end left me feeling let down somehow as if all that reality had been some kind of trick.