My Life in the 7th Grade

Mark Geller, Author HarperCollins Publishers $10.95 (121p) ISBN 978-0-06-021979-6
With sensitivity and humor, Geller's first story addresses some poignant, painful issues facing preteens. Narrator Marvin Berman treats the reader to a perceptive eyeful of his trials and triumphs in the seventh grade, where youngsters get bad grades even when they're trying, cruel students and teachers ridicule fat kids, class bullies make good friends, and girls with skinny legs become love objects. Unfortunately, the adultsMarvin's parents and college-age brotherare never developed fully as characters. Some loose ends could stand fleshing out as well: the protagonist keeps a diary but the reader doesn't see excerpts; Skokie and the Chicago White Sox are mentioned here and there, which only serves to exaggerate the basic lack of local color. The book also suffers from a time warp. The slightly befuddled Jewish father who never went to college and mistakenly thinks his son is in the sixth grade, the mother who plays canasta and mah-jongg, and a family who spends summers at a bungalow colony aren't quite at home in the suburban '80s. (10-up)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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