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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