Abbie's Reviews > How to Survive Middle School

How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: children-s, bullying, realistic-fiction
Read from April 06 to 14, 2011

David Greenberg was a star at Longwood Elementary. His teachers loved him, and his best friend, Elliot, was his constant companion and camera man for the "Talk Time" videos David produces and uploads to You Tube. David's goal is to be John Stewart one day, and "Talk Time" is his own version of The Daily Show. What should've been the perfect summer before the horrors of middle school is destroyed when Elliot wants to spend all his time at the mall hoping to catch sight of a girl instead of making videos with David. This leads to a huge fight wherein both boys says things they can't take back. David's comments about Elliot's absent father are especially cruel, and he and Elliot are starting middle school as enemies instead of friends.

To make matters worse, Elliot has teamed up with the biggest bully in school, and the two begin to torment David. David was a star at Longwood El, but he is a lowly sixth grader in middle school, and the school media program won't even give him the time of day. David is also dealing with as absent mother who doesn't even have a telephone. The star of his "Talk Time" videos was a gift from his mom, named Hammy, and for a while Hammy seems to be his only friend. Then he meets Sophia, a cute redhead who always smells like peppermint. Sophia likes math and science like David, and when she discovers his "Talk Time" videos, she sparks a fire that quickly gets out of control.

This book was not as funny as I thought it would be. Maybe it's because I'm not a twelve year old boy; maybe it's because I need to see the videos to get the humor. However, this book did have redeeming qualities. David realizes that his actions have consequences when he uses his older sister for the daily acne forecast and eventually gains some empathy. Gephart also deals with the effects of bullying well, and the reader feels David's pain and reluctance to attend school. The author also accurately portrays the unpredictability of middle school and the middle schooler. David finds himself saying and doing things he never has before, and he is confused by his impulsive actions. (Grades 4-7)

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