Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff Book Poster Image
Scrapbook-style sequel tells girl's heartfelt story.

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age 9+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Gives readers a look at books that may be required reading in middle school (The Hobbit, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Monsoon Summer), and other middle school coursework (such as dissecting worms and fetal pigs in science class). Ginny studies French, and a few French words are included in the book. There are also some bits of U.S. history, and medical information related to ailments from which Ginny and another family member suffer.

Positive Messages

No matter how many struggles a family faces, it can survive when members support each other and work as a team.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ginny's a typical middle schooler for whom friends and pop culture are priorities, but her sense of well-being hinges on the health and happiness of her family life. Ginny's mom is a caring, hardworking woman, who sets clear boundaries for her kids. For example, a note on Ginny's report card lets Ginny know that she will have to quit the cheerleading squad if her grades suffer. Ginny's stepdad, Bob, seems devoted to the family and expresses his love through healthy cooking (often to humorous effect). Ginny's English teacher responds in personal, supportive ways to the feelings expressed in Ginny's poetry.

Violence

One of Ginny's homework assignments is about Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and Ginny tells that Frank was killed after the end of the Diary. The Vampire Vixens Den chat group that Ginny belongs to discusses blood sucking, but not excessively or graphically.

Sex

Ginny participates in an online fan club for the fictional TV show Vampire Vixens. In that space, other VV fans chat about whether vampires are biting or just sucking each other's necks, and whether new cast members will be good kissers.

Language

Ginny says that cheerleaders are "not bimbos." In an email, Ginny apologizes to a friend for her mom's "boobs," after her mother apparently nursed her newborn in front of her.

Consumerism

Lots of products shown, but all fictional brands.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff is by the Newbery Honor Book author of Turtle in Paradise, Jennifer L. Holm. It portrays several months in Ginny's eighth-grade life, cleverly revealing details about her and her family through the same scrapbook-style Holm used in used in Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf, which chronicled Ginny's year in seventh grade. Pages show possessions, Post-It notes, homework assignments, calendars, email, texts, and more. Ginny and her family -- mom, stepdad Bob, and three brothers -- suffer several financial and medical problems, and Holm manages to convey emotional magnitude even in this somewhat limited storytelling style. Ginny's online chat group includes some minor violent or sexual overtones, and Ginny mentions that her mom showed her "boobs" while nursing baby Ballou. Note: The target audience is definitely younger than eighth graders; Ginny's "voice" is much more like that of an 11-year-old than a 13-year-old.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byggrain06 April 13, 2016

It Slays

I think it is a good book there is a little sex talking and sucking on necks but i still think it is a good book it is funny and the best book

What's the story?

EIGHTH GRADE IS MAKING ME SICK: GINNY DAVIS'S YEAR IN STUFF, by three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm, author of Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf, portrays several months in the life of eighth grader Ginny Davis. In the same scrapbook-style, pages show possessions, Post-It notes, text and email messages, online chat screens, poems, to-do lists, family financial documents, and more. Combined, these photo collages (by illustrator Elicia Castaldi) convey Ginny's wishes for the school year ("try out for cheer," "convince Mom to let me bike to school," "work on art"). Not all of Ginny's wishes come true, but her flawed, loving family and friends anchor her. The writing, usually from Ginny's point of view, is often humorous, but addresses some serious family issues as well as less weighty eighth-grade-type concerns.

Is it any good?

In a sense, with its snapshot, graphics-centric approach, Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick presumes a short attention span on the part of young readers, which can be disheartening. However, it's also quite impressive in the extent to which it conveys real emotion and depicts a believable, imperfect family. The novel is undeniably engaging, funny and moving. It's a quick, entertaining read that will resonate with young readers, though it's worth noting that the target audience is definitely younger than eighth grade. Ginny's "voice" is much more like that of an 11-yea- old than a 13-year-old.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Ginny's interest in the fictional TV show Vampire Vixens. Why do you think teens are so interested in stories about vampires?

  • Does Ginny seem like a realistic eighth-grader to you? What about her seems believable, and what doesn't?

  • Why does Ginny become sick?

Book details

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