"Middle school…was basically a place you tried to survive…Everybody was rushing around and you hardly knew anybody, and there were predators. Even some of the kids you knew started turning into them. Plus, a lot of kids at our school were changing and making these tight little cliques, and if you didn't fit in somewhere you could be in trouble." (Page 9)
"…the whole place is an obstacle course of kids alert for someone they can pound on or ridicule. If you have no hope of being accepted in a cool clique, or any clique for that matter, you're safest if you can manage not to get noticed at all." (Page 10)
"You know how there's always one kid in school who's the dirty one, one kid who's the smelly one, one kid who throws the ball over the backstop…and one kid who it's okay for anybody, absolutely anybody, to trash? In our school that last kid was Elliot…I wasn't really sure why he was the one, but the fact was that in Parkland School seventh grade, no matter who you were, Elliot Gekewicz was lower on the social scale than you." (Page 17)
Russell describes middle school as a place with "predators" that you "try to survive."
Can you relate to his experience?
How was your transition to middle school similar or different?
Why do you think fitting in to "tight cliques" or groups is important to people?
What types of people are considered "cool" at your school?