Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick is the second book about Ginny Davis, following Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf. Through various objects, notes, assignments, and email exchanges, Ginny’s new school year unfolds - in her new house, with her new stepdad, where her mom is expecting a new baby. Things just keep changing, as her stepdad loses his job, her delinquent brother gets into huge trouble, and Ginny struggles to get through dissections in biology, and make it onto the cheerleading squad.
I have always been fascinated by stories told through documents, so I am predisposed to liking this book’s format. Since I read this sequel immediately after finishing Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf, the first thing I noticed is how much easier it was to read this second volume than the first. The illustrations really improved from one book to the next, and these newer ones, for obvious reasons, look much more fresh and contemporary than the ones created more than five years ago. I loved seeing a Babymouse book turn up in one of Ginny’s boxes for the move, and as in the first book, I thought her mom’s tongue in cheek notes from “the management” were a great insight into her personality and sense of humor. The IM conversations look much more realistic this time around, and I detected an overall smoothness of presentation that I didn’t really see in the first book.
Reading Eight Grade is Making Me Sick also got me thinking about the act of reading a little bit. So much of this story must be inferred by the reader from very words on very few pages, and yet I walked away from the book feeling like I’d been handed a full narrative of every emotion, action, and conversation, and yet, really, all I’ve been given is evidence pointing to each of those things. So much of the story was constructed in my head, by me putting together these subtle little clues. I think it’s so neat how my brain just knows how to read a book like this, without anyone having to explicitly teach me. I think that’s why kids get excited about books in a visual format - it just comes more naturally to them to take things in visually. It’s second nature, whereas reading a traditional book is a learned behavior.
I really love Ginny as a character, and her family as well, and the story was over too soon for me. I did think some things were probably a bit of a stretch. Surely, at some point these family members would talk to one another in person, not just through writing, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief a little bit because I enjoyed this mode of storytelling so much.
Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf does not circulate much in my library, but now that I’ve read it and this sequel, it will be one more book on the list I recommend to my Dear Dumb Diary / Popularity Papers / Dork Diaries audience. It’s also a great one to suggest to fans of Babymouse, since it’s by the same author and many kids probably wouldn’t realize that.
I borrowed Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick from my local public library.