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

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3.36  ·  Rating details ·  689 Ratings  ·  151 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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Jan Philipzig
When Dan Clowes & Joe Matt Hit Puberty...

I read this comic-book anthology on the experiences of early adolescence because I am generally interested in the subject of youth, and because it looked like a great opportunity to sample the work of a few lesser-known alternative cartoonists. Unfortunately, the majority of contributions turned out to be less impressive than I had hoped, and the best ones are from cartoonists most fans of alternative comics are already familiar with.

To me, one of the
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David
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  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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Andy
Feb 03, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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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Rebecca
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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David Schaafsma
I did like this collection, by a variety of talented artists, about their experiences in middle school. Daniel Clowes and others tell some pretty miserable tales... telling me nothing really new about middle school... though I pause to reflect that most comic artists seem to tend to be outsiders, recluses, bullied, dumped by potential suitors, etc etc... I was amused and entertained, nevertheless, and think maybe it would be a good companion book for teacher education....
Melissa Chung
I'm glad I kept on reading the second half was a lot better. Giving this graphic novel anthology 3.5 stars.

Like I said above, this is an anthology. A collection of short stories by 16 different authors. The editor of this collection got to add two short stories. I don't want to talk about all 17 stories in this review because that would take too long. I did however break down each story in my updated progress section. So if you are super interested in each story you can look there.

All of these
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Harris
Retro Review

Stuck in the Middle was one of the first anthologies of memoir and slice of life comics I read, checking it out from my college library, and it really sparked my interest in the genre, introducing me to a lot of interesting artists, including Ariel Schrag, Gabrielle Bell, and Aaron Renier, among others.

Middle school is definitely a rich and traumatic vein to draw from; I can’t think of anyone who actually enjoyed this period of their educations, the time in between childhood and the
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Lauren
This collection of snippets from graphic novel greats (Ariel Schrag & Daniel Clowes, to name two,) is making me laugh out loud during my lunch breaks. It's great! I'd have to agree that it's probably more applicable for those who have already experienced middle school...although I never understood people talking about how bad middle school was...I was probably just too freaking oblivious...oh, and I was hiding out in the library during recess because I was depressed that middle schools didn' ...more
Sy Snootles
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
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jenny
Nov 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Junior high sucks! This collection mostly hits the whole shitty experience right on the head.I picked this up because it's edited by Ariel Schrag and found some really great art by some people I've never heard of.
Meghan
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, anthology
Most of the pieces in this felt too short, or incomplete somehow. There was one that made me cry because it was so sad.
Hayden
Some of the stories were really good, other were forgettable. Probably of less interest to middle school students than to those of us who've already survived it.
Dominique
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: manga, 2017
This book was pretty good it was just hard reminding me of my hard time in middle school. For this reason I would recommend it to someone struggling in middle school or even high school.
For me it just brought back bad memories.
The Reading Countess
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
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
Skylar
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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Julia Erlanger
This book is an anthology of nonfiction short comics by seventeen established comics artists recounting some memory or story from their experiences in middle school/junior high. The visual styles are extremely varied, as are the stories and experiences.

Because of this, some resonated with me way more than others. Mostly I breezed through, perhaps laughing a little at one or feeling a commiserating “yeah, I remember that” with another. But on the whole, I just didn’t emotionally connect. The stor
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Evan
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ang
While it was interesting to see the different styles of the contributing artists, the mood throughout the book was definitely moody, angsty and kind of sad.

The stories definitely reflect the unpleasantness of going through puberty, going to middle school and high school. It certainly brought back my own unpleasant memories of that time in my life.

I would recommend it to older kids, not so much tweens and younger kids. Because it might give them the wrong impression of what they're going to face
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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
Bridget Yarusso
Apr 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Brad
Jul 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Rebecca
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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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Bonnie
Oct 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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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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
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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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
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
kimberly
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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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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“the weather in northern california is like your body at 16, you just don't feel it.” 0 likes
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