Certain relief, for middle schoolers and their parents, from the discomfort associated with a difficult period in life.



In this call for change, a bestselling author examines the often painful middle school years and offers parents sound advice that will enable their children to become more empathetic, caring, and resilient.

This book stems from Warner’s unrelenting desire to find good explanations for what her middle school–age daughter was experiencing, why the parents and other children were behaving as they were, and what she could do to improve the situation. Over the course of two years, the author interviewed more than 100 people, including experts, educators, parents, and nonparents, from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages. With few exceptions, what she found was a shared sense of social struggle. In order to provide a better understanding of the middle school years, Warner begins by exploring the societal history of the 11- to 14-year-old age group from Colonial America to the present. She points out that the view of this age group has shifted over time and that mass media has contributed to many of the myths and negatives stereotypes often associated with middle schoolers. Warner also cites research indicating that our own memories of middle school may be inaccurate or incomplete. According to scientists, there is a “second critical period” of brain development during adolescence. For this reason, we were incapable of seeing the big picture without the help of adults—and our children are facing the same thing. The author stresses that parents should view middle schoolers as “works in progress” and help them develop the tools they need to thrive by teaching and modeling the ability to think and feel beyond themselves. Warner argues that the great danger facing middle schoolers today is the values (or lack thereof) that we are teaching them. “Selfishness, competition, and personal success at any cost” must be replaced with new norms. “By rethinking the middle school years,” she writes, “we have the opportunity to become better and happier adults.”

Certain relief, for middle schoolers and their parents, from the discomfort associated with a difficult period in life.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-90588-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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