Rafe Khatchadorian has just started sixth grade, and he’s decided to shake things up a bit with a project he calls Operation R.A.F.E. - Rules Aren’t For Everyone. With the help of his best friend, the imaginary Leo the Silent, Rafe plans to break every rule in the student handbook - and do his best not to get caught.
Like Patterson’s novels for adults, this early teen novel has his signature short chapters, which make the story into a page-turner. Rafe is a really engaging character with a great voice and he got a lot of sympathy from me for his unhappy home life, his problems making friends, and the true story behind Leo the Silent. I think the concept for the book is great - breaking all the rules lends itself to a nice structure, and gives the reader a reason to keep following the story. I also think it’s wonderful to have a “middle school stinks” book narrated by a boy. It’s not just girls who have trouble adjusting to life in middle school!
The art in this book matches the story perfectly. Rafe draws real and imaginary events from his life, which really get at what he is feeling. The drawings in the book sometimes tell the reader things that Rafe would not necessarily come right out and say himself, and they’re also just really eye-catching and similar to what kids are used to seeing in graphic novels and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.
Patterson is such a successful author because he knows how to write what people want to read. Kids love diary fiction and graphic novels, and by incorporating those two popular concepts into his novel, he’s created a sure hit. Thankfully, he’s also written something engaging, funny, and edifying, that shows kids just what happens when one decides to become a troublemaker.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life pairs well with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Troublemaker by Andrew Clements, Tom Angelberger’s Origami Yoda books, and Ben H. Winters’s Bethesda Fielding mysteries.
I borrowed Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life from my local public library.