The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

I’ve been enjoying Linda Perlstein’s wonderful book, Not Much Just Chillin’: The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers, which you might recall from a previous post, here.

I’m not really interested in conjuring up a new review for it, since most of it has already been said. For example, from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Perlstein’s interpretation of what’s going on inside [middle schoolers] hormone-charged world is information every educator and parent should have . . . . A fascinating and important book.”

But as a writer, as someone who finds this stuff useful — applicable, insightful, helpful, necessary — I just want to say: Thank you, Linda Perlstein, great job. Very impressive, not only the detailed, intimate research, but somehow organizing that mound of raw data, as it were, into such digestible (and entertaining) form.

I’ve been working on a book about middle schoolers, seventh-graders to be precise, and at the same time sharing a house with a seventh-grader of my own. This book feeds and informs that work. So as always, I’m reading it with pen in hand, underlining, starring, writing in the margins, endlessly fascinated, sympathetic, horrified, amused, saddened. Such an age of change and uncertainty.

I share the above as an example of my marginalia. I nodded during that passage, because it exactly echoed the central theme of my 2008 book, Along Came Spider.

Anyway, here’s another brief passage I loved. Perlstein is writing about Jackie Taylor, a seventh-grader, her inner thoughts and musings:

If there were a giant question box in the sky, to which you could submit any query without fear of embarrassment, Jackie would ask two things: How do you make out? and What happens after you die?

There it is in a nutshell, don’t you think?

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