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October 4, 2003

Book Review: Not Much Just Chillin’: The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 3:25 pm

book by Linda Perlstein

Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls says:

“Linda Perlstein has managed to embed herself in the lives of minds of middle schoolers, thoroughly capturing the major issues and the minutiae that govern the course of these crucial years. A terrific read for parents and other adults who need to navigate along with them.”
That is an impressive review from an author I highly regard. However, I haven’t found this book to be worth reading at all. Perhaps if you are a concerned parent with no clue or remembrance for what middle school was like, then take the many days and evenings to trudge through this novel. It moves slowly, very slowly, and while it tries to pulll you into the minds of a typical middle schooler, it still leaves you watching from the outside, the sidelines, the parental position that you are already at.

The first fault I found was the classification of the school, Wilde Lake in Columbia, MD, to be a little too over dramatized. It’s a suburban school in a typically white, upper-middle and upper class neighborhood. Columbia, MD. This isn’t your typical urban or suburban school. However, to be over generalizing and stereotypical, concerned parents and adults interested in issues about middle school development will probably be from neighborhoods and school settings much like this one.

Second fault, it is a slow read. The intro to students personalities is dull and indicate that the author really didn’t do her research on what middle school kids are like on a social and cultural level. Instead, she’s spooning out adult-centered information that further alienates parents that are already struggling with their children’s personal interests.

I’ve only read two chapters, so maybe the book gets better. However, it’s gonna take me a while to finish it since I’ve got several other more interestesting novels waiting for me to read.

Update: I tried very hard to get through more of the book but I couldn’t. There was no way to build up enough momentum to continue turning the pages. Parents of middle schoolers are often desperate to find some way to reach their children that seem to be slipping away from them — for these parents, the last thing they need to do is waste their time trying to fight through this books in hopes for some great insight into the child’s life. There are other books out there that can open plenty of doors for them in a much less painful way (along with many other resources including their own children).