What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child deals with the real emotions kids deal with in the popularity race in middle school. It will bring up questions about fitting in, dealing with peer pressure, and doing the right thing. There's some hurtful name calling and scenes of bullying. The main character, a girl named Charlie, acknowledges that she's not in the best shape and struggles to be more health-conscious in her eating habits, at her parents' behest. But she's confident in her sense of style and makes bold clothing choices to fit her mood.
What's the story?
Charlie has a chance to start over after a disastrous end to a friendship and school year, but she's drawn to her old ways as she carves out a new place for herself in school. The popular-girls clique calls, but she's tasked by her therapist to befriend the least popular kid in school. It's life or death (of social status) in the middle school jungle as Charlie navigates her task, her feelings, and her past. Can she manage it all?
Is it any good?
CONFESSIONS OF A SO-CALLED MIDDLE CHILD is a great book. Parents of daughters will rejoice at book full of positive role models, from the adults down to the kids themselves, and characters that are rich and fully developed.
While the book covers a theme central to most books for kids this age -- popularity and social hierarchy -- it shows how kids can be proactive in defining themselves vs. looking for acceptance from the group. Charlie's funny, engaging, talks like a real kid, and has a positive body image, even though she's not perfectly in shape. The adults are supportive, firm when needed, and allow Charlie to find her way with guidance. Author Maria T. Lennon moves beyond the stereotypes and superhero happy endings to a real story with real people. Charlie and the people in her story could easily be in any city and school in America.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about middle school novels. Why are they so popular? What others have you read? How does this one compare?
Charlie's torn between wanting to belong to the popular (but mean) group and tapping into her compassionate side. Have you ever felt torn about stopping bullying behavior?
Do you identify with Charlie as a middle child? What issues and perks are attributed to first borns or the "baby" of the family? Are these fair assessments or stereotypes?
The grown-ups around Charlie let her to explore her feelings and help her find the proper way to address the issues in her life. Whom do you talk to when you need to vent or problem solve?