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Ariel Schrag
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Stuck In The Middle Seventeen Comics From An Unpleasant Age

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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  595 ratings  ·  133 reviews
A very unscientific poll recently revealed that 99.9% of all people who attended middle school hated it. Fortunately, some of those people have grown up to be clever and talented comic artists, with an important message to share: Everyone can survive middle school!

Edited by underground comics icon Ariel Schrag, this anthology of illustrated tales about the agonies and tri

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Published 2007 by Paw Prints
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David
Apr 07, 2013 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school students, former middle school students
If you were like the 99% of kids (according to the blurb) who hated middle school, then this book is full of ouch. Actually, even if you were one of the 1% (the cool kids who were not only popular but had neither academic nor family problems), then this book is full of at least second-hand ouch.

A compilation of short comics written and illustrated by a variety of cartoonists, most of whom are about my age or a little younger, so I could relate to the 80s setting of most of the stories, this book
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Rebecca
I was really excited for this--it had gotten some super reviews. A great graphic-novelly anthology about the trials and tribulations of middle school, drawn & written by some great contemporary comic artists? right on. ...but it turns out I'm not so keen on it. I don't think it's half as great as the reviews make it out to be. And it made me feel a little sick and yellow when I read it.
There are a few good moments in most of the pieces--and there are a few really great drawings that made me
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Andrew
The foreword to this book ends with "misery loves company, so start reading." They couldn't have said it any better.

This collection was miserable.

That's not to say that the artists and storytellers aren't talented (many of them are award-winning or award-nominated). This collection, however, offered nothing new to readers trying to "survive" middle school. Instead it was filled with painful stories that offered little or no insight into that time of life (save Jace Smith's contribution). Readin
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Caroline
Apparently it's hard to be a straight white able-bodied cis-gender preteen, who knew. This book wants you to believe it's "edgy" and matter-of-fact when in actuality it's mostly a superficial summary of what's so traumatizing about middle school. Kids who are merely awkward might find it relatable or enlightening, but anybody who has REAL reasons to feel like an outsider is going to feel even more left out for being excluded. So much wasted potential. I had hoped Ariel Schrag would know better.
H
This was included as a humor book on my YA Lit syllabus. I am either humor challenged, or the trauma of middle school is still too fresh (30 or so years later). That said, though I didn't find many of the comis/cartoons FUNNY in this book, I did find them true. Recommended for kids who might not believe that they'll make it through middle school, but who might find comfort knowing others feel and/or felt the same way.
Stephen
Most of the artists in this thing should be relegated to minicomics...as in the comics version of detention...for life. The art sucks and the stories ain't much better. Joe Matt and Dan Clowes get a pass for their efforts because I wouldn't have even picked it up if not for their inclusion. Trying to be as fair as possible, there were a few moments the creators shared that resonated with me, a few insights I wish I had understood back in middle school hell...but that's it. I'd say that translate ...more
dara
Stuck in the Middle is a mix of comics, varying in style but all centered around the conflicted period known as middle school. Apparently, it's a troublesome time for almost everyone.

A few highlights were: "Snitch" by Tania Shrag, in which the author loses popularity for snitching; "Anxiety" by Eric Enright, in which a sixth grader is sent to therapy for his problems adjusting; "Tina Roti" by Cole Johnson, in which an unpopular girl transfers to a new middle school and remains unpopular; "Hit M
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Bridget Yarusso
This book was tough for me as a mature reader, but I wanted to experience the evolution of comics in young adult literature as the genre has gained more support in the classroom as a way to pull reluctant readers into the wonderful world of literature. "Stuck in the Middle" is written and illustrated by different artists channeling their adolescent years (think age 10 - 15). For my purposes, I would be hesitant to just hand the whole book over to a student unless I knew the student very well. Wh ...more
Skylar
Stuck in the Middle edited by Ariel Schrag is a great, funny, yet sad book with 17 different personal, embarrassing, and true stories about Middle School written by about 17 different people. It is a short story/graphic novel that takes place either during the first day of middle school, a new school, a friend’s house, or the main character's own house. Each story has several characters who are embarrassed, being bullied, or falling “in love” for the first time. The funny and sad plots are easy ...more
The Reading Countess
I struck upon this graphic novel collection of short stories quite by accident while taking my younger two sons book shopping at our neighborhood library. Perusing the YA section has become somewhat of a hobby for me, and when I saw Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an UNPLEASANT Age, I knew this was a book that would need to be stuck in my bag. I had ulterior motives, though. Yes, I wanted to read the book myself (who wouldn't want to be transported back to the time they felt the most ...more
Jen
Stuck in the Middle is a book of seventeen comics by seventeen different artists/authors. The anthology focuses on stories about middle school angst: trying desperately to fit in, unrequited love, fair-weather friends, loneliness, weirdness, self-image, self-loathing, alien parents and teachers, alienation. The list goes on and on... who doesn't remember how torturous middle school was?! The stories vary widely from author to author, but for the most part reflects the American tweens' lifestyle ...more
Brad
Jul 28, 2007 Brad rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that enjoy reliving their youth.
Shelves: comics
Stuck in the Middle mixes well-known artists (Joe Matt, Daniel Clowes) with less-known artists, to talk about how much middle school stinks. Most but not all of the stories are (or feel) autobiographical. While the subject matter seems rather narrow-focused (though “middle school” can cover lots of agony), the selected artists had a nice array of style, from Clowes’ cold, almost-ugly style to Eric Enright’s blob figures and Cole Johnson’s big heads, and Robyn Chapman’s lack of backgrounds that r ...more
Evan
The graphic novel Stuck In the Middle was a definite should read for everyone. When I first picked up this book I didn’t know what to expect but when I opened the first page I knew it would be an instant favorite. The book was about life in middle school and shows the sometimes sad realities of the middle school experience. One of my favorite things about the book is that it takes middle school and turns it into a funny but true story. I think that this story deserves a five star rating based o ...more
Bonnie Gayle
Dec 12, 2007 Bonnie Gayle rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of angsty teen graphic novels
This book features a variety of short comics. Each comic is different from the next due to the different author's drawing styles and perspectives on life, but the common thread is that all the stories focus on the angst-ridden period known as Middle School.

I enjoyed the stories. You could really feel the pain, and it was a good feeling to know that almost EVERYONE had a miserable time in Middle School. It was also a nice sneak peek into a bunch of different author's styles, and now I know of se
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Rebecca
Aug 21, 2007 Rebecca rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grade 7 and up
Shelves: graphic-novels
I suppose I should have been tipped off by the word "unpleasant" in the subtitle, but I did not enjoy reading this book at all. I found some of the stories funny, but most I found agonizing and left disturbingly open-ended. Okay, I thought to myself. This is a book for those who need to know that they are not alone in their middle-school trials -- not a book for those who'd rather not relive them all over again.

The 17 stories provide an interesting variety of cartooning styles, including some i
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BCL Teen Librarians
It took me until adulthood to realize it, but EVERYONE in middle school was as unsure of themselves, awkward and uncool as I was during that time - some were just better at putting on a pose. The "cool kids" also struggled with changing bodies, changing minds and a desperate need to feel accepted. "Stuck in the Middle" is for people like me who can look back on that rough two years and laugh at the experience, recognizing it as a painful but necessary rite of passage. 17 comic artists submit rea ...more
Anne
17 different stories told in graphic novel format about life in middle school. Wide variety of artistic styles, topics, etc, but all pertinent to life (and survival) in middle school. There is some swearing but the f-bomb is never fully spelled out. And there is one scene where a boy is masturbating with his hand in his pants. Nothing, (pardon the term) graphic, however.
Raina
Ariel Schrag is known for her no-holds-barred, no-such-thing-as-too-much-information graphic memoirs which chronicle her teen years. Here, she collects comics from sixteen cartoonists, each riffing on the theme of middle school life. The entries range from camp stories to bus tales to fantastical accounts of prank-playing mascots. Most include elements of romance, fashion and much friend-drama. The artistic styles of the pieces demonstrate the wide variety of indie comics currently available. Co ...more
Vix
Started straight into the action, Peter is clearly a loon! with a memory issue!
Yuck yuck yuck at free meat!
The dead pan delivery makes for chilling reading.
Such intimate details left me feeling like I was doing the dirty deeds of hell.
Then the story switches in a really clever way to the victims PoV; I found this fascinating.
Reading the back and forth between them is enlightening but even as he shares elements of himself with her you cant help thinking, sorry that's just not a good enough reason
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LauraW
This book has some good cartoons, but a lot more not so good ones. I know these cartoonists are supposed to be accomplished and distinguished, but I didn't find the art work that compelling, for the most part.

Yes, there were some all too real scenes from middle school years, most of which are painful, and only funny from a long distance.
Jessica
This book really hit the mark on the exact feeling of awkwardness and embarrassment peculiar to that gawky age. It's interesting that the adult characters also tend to be realized pretty accurately, which "real" adolescents probably couldn't have done with much sensitivity.
HeavyReader
If you are remembering your junior high years through rose colored glasses, feeling fondness for your early teenage years, this is the book you need to bring you back to reality.

For most of people I know, junior high was a terrible, terrible time of insecurity and pain. I wonder if even the cool and popular kids were happy. Maybe it was all a facade.

In any case the seventeen comics in this anthology showcase misfits, zit faces, fat kids, and outcasts.

Artist/writers include Lauren Weinstein, Dan
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kimberly
i typically enjoy more vector-based comics, more graphic, less sketch. or, at least, drawings that are more "mature", less wonk. (i know, as an artist, i am awful at explaining why i do or don't like something - it's pathetic; i was terrible at critique!)

in any case, i didn't like a lot of the illustrations here, however, i felt that many times they went with the story. they were awkward and felt kind of ugly, which is exactly how many of us feel in the middle school years.

my favorite story was
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Margot
A collection of stories about the most awkward of times in human development: middle school. The purported purpose of this collection is to give outsiders hope that they, too, can grow up and not be bullied anymore, and perhaps even become successful comic artists (sort of like a graphic "it gets better"), but the overall effects is more one of overwhelming ickiness. It speaks to the accuracy and effectiveness of these stories that they bring back the feelings of middle school flooding full forc ...more
Robin
Dec 18, 2007 Robin rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like offbeat graphic novels
But, last night I started reading Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age edited by Ariel Schrag. The book features short vignettes about life in middle school or junior high, as some people still refer to those grades between 6th and 8th. For some people, it's torturous. Others, not so much. (In fact, the friend who called me last night, when I told him what I was reading, he shuddered audibly over the phone because, apparently, his middle school years were hellish.)

Personally, I
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Jodi
I need you to journey back in time with me. Back to the place before my brain was infected with Scott Pilgrim and when Ariel Schrag was the queen of my graphic novel universe. Remember that? Those were good times.
But then my universe came crashing down when I embarked on reading Likewise the third, and final book in Schrag’s High School Chronicles. Written in a Ullyssesesque stream of consciousness, I couldn’t take Likewise. My annoyance with the the WTFness of the narrative was a disappointment
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Whitney
This book contains 17 short vignettes of the authors' middle school tragedies in order to show current middle schoolers that they are not alone and that other people have been through the same horrific time in their lives. I like that the episodes don't resolve themselves, they are just little windows to the life of these authors. Almost every story rang true with me so it was almost comforting that not only did these people live through a similar middle school experience as me but also, they al ...more
Theresa
I've only read about half of this in the book store. The comic that sticks with me the most is very basic and plainly drawn. It's about a kid named Terry I think. He's in 6th grade and hates school so much that he thinks of things to do to himself to keep from going (like drinking bleach) that he never does. The comic is mostly his first visit to a therapist and when she asks him how school is going he just starts to cry. He hates lunch the most because he can't ever find a place to sit. I remem ...more
April
I wanted to read this set of comics because I just recently read about it being challenged in Maine. It does contain curse words, sex talk, and drug references, but more importantly, it features junior-high kids being assholes and dealing with other assholes. I can see why some parents would be in an uproar over these stories. But I think ultimately, it is better that miserable middle schoolers know that the ages 12-14 are super confusing, often frustrating, and might be the most difficult phase ...more
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Ariel Schrag was born in Berkeley, California in 1979. Her debut novel, ADAM, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in June 2014.

She is the author of the graphic memoirs Awkward, Definition, Potential, and Likewise (Simon & Schuster), which chronicle her four years at Berkeley High School. Potential was nominated for an Eisner Award and Likewise was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.

P
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Potential Adam Awkward and Definition: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag Definition

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