Early Book Review: The Classroom by Robin Mellom

The Classroom by Robin Mellom is a novel about starting middle school, and finding your place. It is scheduled for release on June 19 2012. At Westside Middle School a documentary crew is recording the details of the average seventh grader's efforts to find his way, with some not so average moments to keep everyone on their toes. Trevor Jones is a worrier, with a penchant for ending up in embarrassing situations. His best friend Libby is a little neurotic and determined that she and Trevor each start middle school off on the right foot, making new friends and finding a date for the upcoming dance. Molly is the mysterious new girl, fascinating to Trevor but the opposite of what Libby has in mind for her friends. Then there is Marty, an eight grader willing to impart his assumed wisdom to Trevor; the super perky and short Cindy, and Corey, the cool kid with his own agenda. Will Trevor and Libby meet their goal of a date for the dance by the end of the first day of school, and will their friendship survive the changes wrought by the new year?

The Classroom is a fun and realistic look at the 'wonders' of growing up. Readers get to see the worries and thoughts of the characters, showing how even the people who appear to have their act together are really as confused as the rest of us. We see the thoughts  of Trevor trying not to end up in another embarrassing situation, and trying to find his way out of the ones he stumbles into. We see Libby's desire to help her friend even as she tells him that they need to make other friends. We see Molly's thoughts as she tries to stay separate from everyone while not being bored. We even see the thought processes and some of the reasons that 'cool' Corey acts the way that he does. Best of all, the story did not take the same and almost expected route found in books for all ages with the best friends becoming love interests. It was nice to see an ending that wrapped up well, not with everyone's life perfect but with a very satisfying resolution none the less.

I highly recommend The Classroom for readers around nine through fourteen years old. I think the portrayal of the fears and reality of entering a new grade, and a new school, is right on. I think teachers and parents should read this as well to help remind themselves what it was like to be in the shoes of the kids. Adults that just enjoy reading books for this age group will enjoy it as well. My only concern while reading The Classroom is for the author. After having read their young adult book Ditched, and the this book, I am pretty sure that some time was spent at a 7-Eleven during or after a dance drinking Slurpees. If there had been a 7-Eleven near me during my dance years, I am pretty sure I would have been doing the same.
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