After I finished Full of Beans a few weeks ago (or thereabouts) I was looking idly through the Jennifer L. Holm titles in our library system, which is where I came across Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis’s Year in Stuff. Because I have a serious library problem–um, I mean, because it looked interesting–I reserved it and checked it out, and since it was a short, easy read, I finished it shortly thereafter. AND–on the one hand, I quite enjoyed it. On the other hand, I didn’t realize that it was a sequel to Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff until after I finished it. (I didn’t realize that the first book existed until after I finished the second. Believe it or not, I generally try pretty darn hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.)
That being said, it doesn’t stand too badly on its own, although I’d read the other first if I had it to do over again. It’s amazing what a good writer can show through grocery lists, notes to teachers, brief text exchanges, hospital bills, report cards…you get the idea. Ginny’s family is experiencing significant but relatable upheavals, and Holm does an excellent job of conveying what she needs to convey with no actual traditional text. (It’s not a graphic novel, but it will likely have similar appeal to readers.) She also stays within fairly appropriate bounds while dealing with real issues, which is an impressive feat in this day and age.
Bottom line? A good book–one with substance belying its size–for your middle schooler, and one you’ll enjoy as well.