A Year Told Through Stuff

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf (©2007) by Jennifer L. Holm is not your everyday novel. This non-traditional story is described as “a year told through stuff.” Using nothing but notes, lists, homework assignments, poems, shopping receipts, and other items, the author tells the story of 12-year-old Ginny Davis’s first year of middle school.

In the first three pages, we get to see Ginny’s back-to-school shopping list, class schedule, and “big to do list.” This sets the stage perfectly. We get to know a little about Ginny and are eager to learn more.

This story is full of humor, touching moments, and verisimilitude. Ginny’s struggles and triumphs are very real; from feuding with her former best friend to adjusting to life at home with a new stepfather. Despite the unorthodox format of the book, or perhaps because of it, the author provides a detailed view of the main character. Ginny is presented in a way that makes her a lot better-rounded than many of her one-dimensional teen-lit counterparts.

Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf is one of the most fun and engaging middle grade books I have read in a long time. I recommend this book for ages 9-14.

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  1. Do you think Middle School boys would have any interest in this book?

    • Possibly, but it depends on the boy. Most of what Ginny deals with in this book (family issues, friendship) are issues that boys can relate to as well, but many middle school-aged boys are put off by books with female protagonists. While this book isn’t super “girly” it is told from a girl’s perspective.

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