Persuasive Essay 2014 Honorable Mention

Aisha Yamamoto
Grade 6
Kaneohe Elementary

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts is a book that is bound together with intriguing twists and humor. This side-splitting, laugh out loud book will keep your eyes glued to its pages and definitely deserves the 2013 Nene Award.

When Rafe arrived at the front porch, his mom was on the ground and Bear stood over her like a vast mountain shadowing a lone tree. Tears were gathering in her eyes. Rafe yelled at Bear, his mom’s boyfriend, to get away from his mom and shoved him back towards the garage. Bear’s jaw hit the floor, and “his eyes were kind of blank” like his body was there but his brain was floating off in space. Bear resisted fighting back and retreated to the driveway, observing the damage he caused, but not daring to come any closer. For once, Bear actually looked remorseful and worried; he had never looked like that before. This scene really captivated me with its cause and effect, characterization, and metaphor.

When Bear pushed Rafe’s mom down the stairs during their fight, this caused the end of their turbulent relationship. The effects of the argument were a canceled wedding and Bear moving out. Bear moving out is also the resolution and results in Rafe’s mom resuming a one-shift job at Swifty’s Diner. (During their relationship, Rafe’s mom had to work two shifts to support her family because Bear lived with them.) This lifts an enormous weight off of the shoulders of the Khatchadorian family.

This scene also shows characterization. It exposes the other half of Bear’s character that was not revealed throughout the story. The Bear in this scene was flustered and overcome by guilt and remorse, unlike the obnoxious Bear we had come to know. I was surprised to learn that when Bear shed his outside layer it uncovered a good-hearted man willing to face the consequences for his actions.

The metaphor in this scene is intriguing: “His mouth was hanging open, and his eyes were kind of blank, like he wasn’t even there.” I was fascinated by the way the authors were able to express that Bear was bewildered at his own actions without telling the reader. When I read this scene, I closed my eyes and pictured Bear in his shaken state with beads of sweat running down his forehead like the drips of an untightened faucet. I saw his hands quivering uncontrollably, his body frozen in shock, and his eyes lost in disbelief.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is a remarkable book that will leave you laughing so hard, you will be clutching your side and gasping for air. James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts did a spectacular job of blending reality with humor into a priceless, action-packed book that will leave you hanging off the edge of your seat. Middle School will suck you into the story of how Rafe Khatchadorian survives the worst years of his life, the unpredictable way.