Surviving Middle School is an engaging “choose your own adventure” type of book for young girls. In it, life lessons and consequences are explored through the choices girls make as they read the stories. I gave this to my 11 year old and she really enjoyed it, her one comment at the end was that it was too short and she wished there were more challenges.
We approached the book as a challenge – to see if she was ready for middle school next year and to check out what choices she’d make and if they were good ones (though several choices have neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ consequences, which is nice). Although situations such as peer pressure can’t really be defined within the pages of a book (they are really experience-only feelings), the consequences of the choices made when under those situations can be written down effectively (thus giving my daughter more armor and ammunition to make better choices and think through situations when they occur in the future). So the book wasn’t so much about preparing for peer pressure in middle school as it was an opportunity to see what might happen if a girl makes a poor or wise choice (in other words, not sacrificing the future for short term gains).
The book is short so it isn’t a chore for young girls to read. And the situations read well: how to deal with jealous girls and crazy boys. Examples include a sequence of choices dealing with a cute boy: starting with your friends asking you to promise never to date him to concluding through actual dates with him and whether he was worth it. Other topics include soft topics such as whether to ‘fudge’ a written exam a bit by plaguerizing one small part that should be ‘no big deal’.
My daughter read through her choices first and finished the book – then went back and read the ones she didn’t choose just to see what would happen. There’s a nice conclusion about opportunities missed (e.g., if you stay on a date with the cute guy, you miss meeting the guy who really is meant for you) that really resonated with my 11 year old. She was proud of her choices and I really liked that several points we have brought up about doing the right thing now that she’s entering her teen years are given concrete examples here.
In all, a great book for girls to read and then discuss with parents. Making it a challenge (would you do the right thing? Are you ready for middle school – find out here!) made it more interesting for my 11 year old to read. I hope the author does more in this series with more soft choices to explore.
Reviewed from an ARC provided by the publisher.